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Church on the spot over ‘grabbing’ of playground in Jamhuri

Residents of Jamhuri estate in Nairobi are accusing the county government of allocating playgrounds to private developers.

The row intensified last week when the Anglican Church of Kenya started digging trenches on one of the disputed plots in readiness to put up a building.

Other developers have also built flats in open spaces and playgrounds. The estate was constructed by the defunct Nairobi City Council.

On Wednesday, we established that it is the former council that allocated the land in the 1990s.

In 1998, residents filed a petition in the High Court, which issued an order stopping any construction on the land on grounds that the plots were reserved for public utilities.

This prevented the grabbers from erecting buildings on the land.

The Nairobi County Government has promised to issue a statement Thursday.

“The county executive in charge of Housing, Lands and Physical Planning, Mr Tom Odongo, would issue a statement,” said the county’s communications director Beryl Okundi.

However, the county chief land officer, Mr Samuel Mwangi, had on September 11, 2014 written to St Paul’s Anglican Church in Jamhuri, saying City Hall had leased the plot to them.

The letter said the church has been allowed to temporary use the property since it is a public institution.

Owing to the hostility by the residents, Mr Mwangi gave the Jamhuri Police Station boss a copy of the letter, asking him to assist the church to build on the land.

On Wednesday, residents said some ward reps are also beneficiaries of the illegally allocated plots.

Unprocedural allocation of public land in the city has become a matter of concern. The county assembly has asked Governor Evans Kidero to order the repossession of the property.

Last week, members of the county Public Accounts Committee visited Kilimani estate on Ngong Road, which was allocated to a trading company 25 years ago.