Kilifi businessmen decry illegal demolition of buildings for road construction

Nzamba Kavili Kitonga, one of the businessmen in Kilifi whose buildings that house his business had been demolished. DAVID NGUMBAO.

Kilifi, KENYA: The business community in Kilifi town is crying foul over a warning to demolish their buildings to pave way for the construction of a new road at Kwa Charo wa Mae.

According to them, the warning was posed to them by a community committee on physical planning known as Kalolo Kibaoni Baya Magonzi (KKB).

The business community says the committee is not genuine as it is not recognized by anyone in the government or the public.

Nzamba Kavili Kitonga, one of the businessmen targeted by the committee and who runs several bars and restaurants business in the town, said he was shocked after one his premises situated at Zafanana estate was brought down under unclear circumstances.

Kitonga who owns Kilifi’s Highway club and new meeting point pub at Zafanana estate building behind Kwa Charo Wa Mae open air market, added that he was even more shocked after his property just behind the market was demolished too on allegations that it was set up on a road reserve.

He faulted the exercise under the committee saying he has lost up to sh. 1 Million on the property.

KKB is a community project that was started in 1994 with the objective of planning Kilifi town but with over twenty years lapses, the planning had become even more unrealistic following the fast growing of the town, and increased human settlements due to urbanization.

Speaking to the press at the demolished structure which he is again re-building, the businessman said he had invested for over 34 years in the town but was worried about the future of the town with such acts.

“I am sure that this upgrading project is being implemented by cartels and people who are not even aware how roads are being constructed, they have no respect for investors who have worked in this town since it began,”  Kitonga said.

He said several structures and business outfits had been demolished by the road workers who are working on the proposed Charo wa Mae –Kibaoni road which was identified by the KKB committee for its upgrade late last year.

“The KKB workers arrived in my premises when I was away and without a notice, pulled down my structures,” added Kitonga.

On February this year some people who were posing as officers from the County Office of the Lands, Energy, Housing and Physical Planning, demanded that they stop any activities at the targeted roads apply for re-construction of their structures.

“Even after our landlords honored their demand and re applied for the construction, we still did not get any response from the officers and we went ahead and started to construct,” he said.

No sooner had he started the reconstruction than he received a letter from the KKB committee asking him to immediately stop any ongoing construction.

Newly elected chairman of the KKB committee Hamisi Katambo said there were loopholes during the identification of the road since it evaded some portions that had been shown in the map of the road.

“The road is not supposed to be where it is. The members diverged the roads with their eyes and not according to the map. May be they wanted to favor someone. The road now becomes illegal but it can be rectified if it has not affected any structures, however it becomes an issues where buildings have been demolished,” said Katambo.

However, County Director of Physical Planning Rueben Ngeti told journalists that the ongoing road construction is illegal since the plan that is being used is outdated.

“Those opening the road are using the surveyors plan for KKB which is not complete and approved. There is no road there and if it could be there then it is supposed to base on the current Physical Development Plan (PDP),” Ngeti said.

He urged the business community affected to head to court and seek legal redress concerning the same, as that is what could save them.