Mombasa tops in the size of building permit bribes

Tuesday February 12 2019

Mugure Njendu

Architectural Association of Kenya secretary Mugure Njendu. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

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A survey by the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) which looked into buildings’ approval in three major towns and seven of Kenya’s wealthiest counties identified Mombasa most prone to bribery.

Investors in the county paid bribes of up to Sh1 million to “facilitate” acquisition of building permits.

The AAK survey, funded by the Business Advocacy Fund (BAF), shows that investors in Kisumu, Uasin Gishu and Kajiado parted with bribes as high as Sh100,000, Kakamega (Sh50,000) and Nakuru at Sh20,000.

Kiambu, which has witnessed massive multi-billion shilling investments in recent years, had bribes starting at Sh30,000 but did not have a maximum limit.

“Manual applications and approval processes where applicants have to follow up from one office to another to seek approval cause delays and are costly,” noted the report. It added that Nairobi, Machakos and Nyeri had no “facilitation fee” or informal “gift” demanded by various State agencies to fast-track approvals.

AAK called for reduction of the eight to 10 steps in the approval process saying it took an average of 160 days compared to Rwanda’s 112 for an application to be passed. AAK secretary Mugure Njendu called for harmonisation and standardisation of approval fees saying this will enable counties to compete evenly in attracting investments.

AAK’s report comes hardly a week after the release of the latest Leading Economic Indicator report that revealed a Sh25.6 billion drop (14.1 per cent) in building approvals in the first 10 months of 2018.

Some Sh155.9 billion worth of projects were approved compared to Sh181.5 billion during a similar period in 2017.

Commercial property development suffered the biggest slump at Sh15.1 billion, a 19.1 per cent drop, compared to the real estate sector that experienced a 10.2 per cent drop valued at Sh10.5 billion.

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