Danger of fire as Ngong Forest houses sit on oil pipeline - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 6 July 2020

Danger of fire as Ngong Forest houses sit on oil pipeline

An aerial shot of Ngong road forest land that the government wants repossed.

Developers of land hived off from Ngong Forest built residential properties on top of the Nairobi-Eldoret-Kisumu pipeline, posing risk to those residing there.

A map in our possession shows the pipeline traverses through dozens of plots that have already been developed.

The pipes snake through Sunvalley Estate phase II.

The pipe is bordered by Royal Place Estate.

Estates that are dangerously near the pipes include KMA, St. Mary’s hospital, Lang'ata View Estate, Lang'ata Gardens, Park Place Estate and Sun Valley phase I and Phase III.

A source said authorities were still identifying the parcels after getting the LR number for the mother title.

The source said the recommended 30 ×30 metres feet way leave would have been allowed.

On September 12, 2011, a spillage occurred from a pipeline owned by Kenya Pipeline Company, running through the Mukuru slum, Sinai area.

As the slum dwellers siphoned the fuel, fire exploded.

The fire killed about 120 people and injured hundreds.

Taj Mall, which was recently brought down by the government, was also said to have been constructed near the pipeline.

Already, Environment CS Keriako Tobiko has said the government will begin repossessing all land illegally acquired by private developers inside Ngong Road Forest.

Tobiko said the forest, once reclaimed, will be linked up to the Nairobi National Park.

He said an underpass will be built to create an expanded dispersal area for wildlife.

"Except the areas that were lawfully degazetted, all the other parcels of this forest, whether people have titles or not, whether they have built structures for business or residential houses, will be reclaimed," Tobiko said.

Tobiko said the forest land was not available for allocation.

The hiving off of forest land is said to have started during President Daniel Moi’s regime, documents show.

Former Natural Resources minister Francis Lotodo hived off 132 acres before allocating it for social amenities.

The documents in our possession show that the powerful minister in President Daniel Moi’s government issued a gazette notice dated March 23, 1998, to back up his move.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 4(1) of the Forest Act, the Minister for Natural Resources declares that the boundaries of Ngong Road Forest reserve be altered so as to exclude the area described in the schedule hereto,” Lotodo said.

Lotodo identified the area as 132 acres, known as LR No. 23256, within and adjourning the eastern boundary of Ngong Road forest reserve.

The contentious plot is now part of Sun Valley Estate.

Lotodo was minister from 1998 until his death in November 2000.

He said the forest boundaries were delineated, edged red, on boundary plan No. 175/368, signed and sealed with the seal of Survey of Kenya, and deposited at the Survey records office.

The Ndung'u Land Report, which investigated illegal/irregular allocation of public land, flagged the alternation of the said forest land.

The report said there was no purpose whatsoever for the alteration of the forest boundary.

Further, it could not find the request for such alteration and the beneficiary and recommended its revocation.

“This was an excision for private gain,” the report noted.

During the proclamation of Ngong Road Forest via proclamation No.44 of April 30, 1932, the forest acreage was 7,231.6.

By 1978 the remaining forest area was 3,283.27 acres, meaning 3,948.33 acres had been grabbed.

On April 28, 1998, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi raised the matter in Parliament and demanded answers from the minister.

“Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to ask the minister for Natural Resources on what grounds he issued legal notice No. 44 on 3rd April 1998, degazetting over 53.68 hectares on LR No. 23256 of Ngong Forest.”

Kituyi continued: “In view of the environmental value of this forest to the public, could the minister cancel the said notice with immediate effect?”

Lotodo said the government wanted the land to be used for social amenities and that the laid down degazettement procedures had been adhered to.

“The government recognises the environmental benefits of Ngong Road forest and put this into consideration while making this decision. Therefore, the question of cancelling the legal notice does not arise,” Lotodo said, adding that he had degazetted various forests in the same manner.

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