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‘Sakaja strangers’ spotted in crucial county meetings

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024 02:00 | By
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. PHOTO/Print
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. PHOTO/Print

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja is on the spot after emerged that some strangers have been illegally sitting in the crucial Nairobi County Government’s Urban Planning Technical Committee.

For this reason, the Assembly Planning Committee has disbanded the technical committee, citing outcry from the city residents and illegal approvals in the city.

The 12-member Nairobi City County Urban Planning Technical Committee (UPTC) was unveiled by Sakaja in 2022.

Their role was to facilitate the evaluation and consideration of applications for development permission submitted to the planning authority.

The Technical Committee comprising various professionals was under assistant director Fred Ochanda of Planning who was on May 3, whisked by Ethics and Anticorruption Commission EACC detectives of unexplained wealth.

However, during the grilling by the assembly planning committee chaired by Alvin Olando,  it emerged that two strangers from the executive were allowed to sit in the technical committee.

The two were the current Chief of Staff David Njoroge, and former South C MCA Osman Khalif Abdi  one of Governor Sakaja’s  closest aides.

Governor’s blessing

County Executive Member for Lands Stephen Mwangi told the Committee that the two were not supposed to sit in the technical committee but they had blessing from the governor.

“In legal terms they are not supposed to sit in that committee but when it comes to the current situation they have been asked to sit through the blessings of the Governor’s office,” Mwangi told the committee.

He added; “As CEC, I work under His Excellency the Governor. If he asks someone to attend a meeting, I have no power. I have no power to say no…legally, they are not supposed to sit in this committee, but when it comes to the current situation and they have been asked to sit, I have very little or no power to say otherwise.”

This was after the planning chair Kitisuru MCA Alvin Olando sought to understand why the County Chief of Staff and one of Sakajas’ right hand man were allowed to sit in the crucial technical committee.

Baba Dogo MCA Geoffrey Majiwa sought to know why some approvals were done in Riverside, a private office linked to the executive, away from City Hall.

CEC Mwangi responded “We believe the governor has legal advisor who should advise him on legal matters who would be able to guide him on legal matters so that he should know whatever he is doing is within the law,”

Private office

The CEC told the committee that sometime in March 2024, a meeting was held in the Riverside office where 154 approvals were discussed of which 131 were approved.

To address the situation, Mwangi pleaded with the County Assembly to come up with clear terms and guidelines on who should participate in such committees so that CECs are not accused of disobedience at any point.

The committee also demanded the list of building permits issued by the county government since Governor Sakaja took office.

This follows the collapse of a five-storey building in Uthiru, which the county confirmed was built illegally.

Some of the members appointed to the Governor’s Urban Planning Technical Committee include CEC  Mwangi, and Urban Planning Chief Officer Patrick Analo. Director of Development Management  Dominic Mutegi, Director of Planning and Compliance Tom Achar, Engineer Mike Waweru, Geoffrey Cheruiyot, Mackline Saitera, Josphine Nater, and Stephen Mwadime among others.

In the last few months, most buildings have been collapsing as a result of what many say is a result of hurriedly done approvals.

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