By Jude Titus
Nairobi Governor Dr. Evans Kidero has halted the demolition of unfit buildings in Nairobi especially Huruma after residents pleaded to be given more time to find other safer shelters. Residents have been given a seven-day reprieve to find alternative houses within the city or elsewhere.
‘‘The exercise is to be stopped for the next one week to allow tenants seek alternative housing since they had not been granted enough time to vacate their homes,’’ indicated Kidero.
However, the three other buildings adjacent to the one that collapsed on Friday night last week have already been vacated and will be demolished as earlier planned. Two more bodies were pulled from the rubble bringing the death toll to 49.
Paul Mwangi, the Principal Secretary of public works had demanded five other houses in Huruma to be demolished on Friday [yesterday].
‘‘Any land that is within 30 meters from the river should not be developed thus the owner of the collapsed building developed here illegally. We have five buildings that are set to be demolished on Friday and 15 others on Monday,’’ indicated Mwangi.
Pius Masai, National Disaster Management Unit [NDMU] head of operations, said that 55 people were still not found while 18 continue to receive treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital [KNH]. He added that the rescue operation may be completed on Sunday.
‘‘It has been a delicate operation and the community helped save the 140 alive from the scene. The number of the dead may increase. So far 18 people are hospitalized at KNH,’’ stated Mr. Masai.
The rescue mission led by National Disaster Management Unit, Kenya Red Cross, National Youth Service and the Nairobi County has so far taken nine days of relentless hard work.
The rescue team is still hopeful of finding more survivors in the debris after they found a live white turkey, cockerel, two ducks and a hen.
In September 2015, Governor Kidero was on record and promised to demolish more than 50, 000 occupied buildings which were declared unfit to live in. He said most of those buildings were in the congested areas of Langata, Kasarani, Dagoretti and Embakasi.
Owners of the unfit buildings were ordered to conform to the required standard set by the National Construction Authority [NCA] and City Hall’s planning and housing department by February 2016 or face demolition.
The Huruma building collapsed on Friday night, April 29 after heavy rains pounded most parts of the country.