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Legal storm brewing after order stopping construction is mysteriously reversed

Jeremy Ngunze, Koome Mwambia and Maribel Larson suing on behalf of Kunde Road Residents Association had obtained orders directing a private developer to stop the construction of residential town houses in Thomson estate pending the hearing and determination of an appeal before the tribunal. 

This follows a protracted dispute involving the residents and Pyramid Builders Ltd which is putting up the town houses on the site. The residents claim the developer did not follow the right procedure for change of user of the property. 

A fresh legal storm is brewing after an order by the National Environment Tribunal last Friday stopping the construction of houses in Nairobi’s Lavington area was mysteriously reversed only hours after it was issued. 

They have also challenged a decision by the National Environmental Management Authority granting the developer a permit to build residential town houses without following due process.

Among the issues raised is that Nema’s environmental impact assessment questionnaires to the residents had only five proponents, while 46 residents objected to the development for various reasons. 

Immediately after issuing the order stopping further construction, the tribunal wrote to the developer explaining its decision. “All activities relating to the appeal must be stopped until the appeal is heard and determined by the tribunal,” reads the letter.

AN OFFICIAL

But in a strange twist, an official at the tribunal by the name JK Awuor, writing on behalf of the chairperson Dr Jane Dwasi, purported to cancel the earlier order.

In the letter addressed to the developer, Awuor claims the earlier order was “issued erroneously”.

It is not, however, clear how the cancellation was made or whether the tribunal met to review the earlier order. 

The two letters signed by the same officer were issued on the same day, within hours of each other raising the question as to wether the tribunal called for an after-hours meeting to cancel the earlier ruling.

In documents seen by the Nation, it would appear that the developer seats in the Nairobi county government’s powerful Urban Planning Technical Committee as a private sector representative.

In a resolution made in October, the county government appears to suggest that the developer must be removed from the committee as his presence constitutes conflict of interest.

The law requires that in cases where an appeal is before the tribunal the status quo is maintained.

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