High Court stops Meru County govt’s Sh2.5bn building project after residents object

The 15-storey Meru Rising Tower was set to be built on public land in Angaine estate.

Wednesday February 3 2016

An architect's impression of the proposed Meru

An architect's impression of the proposed Meru Rising Tower. The High Court in Meru has temporarily stopped Governor Peter Munya’s government from going ahead with the Sh2.5 billion project after 11 residents objected, citing lack of public participation. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By DARLINGTON MANYARA
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By DAVID MUCHUI
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The High Court in Meru has temporarily stopped Governor Peter Munya’s government from going ahead with the construction of a Sh2.5 billion commercial building after 11 residents objected, citing lack of public participation.

The 15-storey Meru Rising Tower was set to be built on public land in Angaine estate.

In an affidavit sworn by Mr Boniface Koome, the residents accused Governor Munya and Lands, Physical Planning and ICT executive Martin Bikuri of conspiring to put up the building on public land without proper consultations.

The residents said the two have violated the County Government Act, 2012 by unconstitutionally initiating key projects without public participation.

Through lawyer Kiogora Mugambi, the petitioners asked Mr Justice Francis Gikonyo to issue orders restricting the respondents from laying any construction in the estate where tenants had already been evicted and structures demolished, until the application is heard and determined.

“The governor and the Lands executive conspired and demolished structures at Angaine estate and have plans to put up a 15-storey building, whose development is not provided for in the first Meru Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017,” reads the petition.

BYPASSED ASSEMBLY

The petitioners also alleged that Mr Munya and Mr Bikuri have unlawfully bypassed the assembly committee on Lands, Economic and Physical Planning which is mandated to deal with matters related to lands, economic policies, county planning and development, including statistics and land surveying.

They also say that the county officials have breached the public finance law by sourcing for funds to put up the tower without legal approval.

Mr Justice Gikonyo, while issuing the 14-day orders, also directed that the respondents be served.

The inter partes hearing was set for February 11, 2016.

The Meru County Investment and Development Corporation (MCIDC) is seeking to raise Sh1.6 billion for the construction of the multi-use commercial building in Meru Town.

PROJECTED TO COST SH2.5BN

Dubbed the Meru Rising Tower, it is, however, projected to cost Sh2.5 billion if financed with a 30 per cent debt.

The tower, which will sit on a one acre plot, will comprise of three floors for retail services, 15 floors of office space and a mezzanine floor for meeting rooms with a capacity of up to 250 people each.

The corporation also intends to facilitate the establishment of a boutique, hotel and apartments near the building to serve tenants and visitors.

Speaking during a local investors’ forum at Alba Hotel in Meru Town recently, MCIDC Managing Director Joel Imitira said the corporation intends to rope in individuals and corporates to raise money for the construction.

“Already, the county government has allocated Sh200 million to the corporation for the project. The county government is also in the process of transferring the title deed of the land to the corporation.

“The corporation has a memorandum of understanding with County Pension Fund which is interested in investing after their feasibility study showed the project is viable,” Mr Imitira said.

“Industrial and Commercial Development (ICDC), a parastatal has also expressed interest in the project,” he added.

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