Exposed: How Former Forestry Chairman Peter Kirigua Is Destroying Ololua Forest By Cutting Trees and Messing the Riparian Area 

By The Weekly Vision Team

An official of the Karen and Langata District Association (KLDA) has come out very clearly objecting to the cutting down of trees in Ololua forest by exposing a powerful cartel at the Nairobi City County Government involved in land-grabbing of protected areas in the city. The cartel is also said to be collaborating with top members of the National Environment Authority (NEMA) in their evil scheme. KLDA says corrupt planning officers from the county approved the massive destruction of trees along Ololua Ridge and the Mbagathi River.

In a letter dated January 8, 2024, signed by Mburu Ngugi, the KLDA Secretary, and addressed to the Executive Committee Member, Green Nairobi (Environment, Water, Food, and Agriculture), the County Executive Committee Member, Built Environment and Urban Planning, the Chairman of the National Environment Complaints Committee, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Water Resources Authority, he reveals the ongoing massive destruction along the river.

The KLDA official was acting on numerous complaints received from the residents about activities along the riparian land that have negatively impacted the river. According to well-placed sources, it is believed that the mastermind responsible for the acquisition of acres of riparian land is former forestry chairman Peter Kirigua, in a move that is not clear though sources say he has intentions of selling the land to a top government official. 

It is claimed that he used his position and power in office to authorise the destruction of the forest and then proceeded to compromise City Hall officials to obtain illegitimate approvals. 

Among the top City Hall officers believed to have been compromised to approve the encroachment fraudulently are the acting county secretary, Patrick Akivanga Analo, who is also the Urban Development and Planning Chief Officer, and Mr Tom Achar, who holds the position of planning director, who is also believed to have been part of the team that was compromised to make the approvals.

Additionally, it has been alleged that other officers involved in the deceitful approvals are Langata Sub-County Administrator Janet Kimeu, Karen Ward Administrator Elizabeth Lilau, Officer in Charge of Enforcement and Security Joseph Omune, Officer in Charge of Built Environment and Urban Planning Joseph Alal, and Officer Responsible for Inclusivity, Public Participation, and Customer Service Dennis Diru.

According to investigations, it has been discovered that officials from Nairobi City County gave their approval for the removal of only 10 trees to make space for the project. The permit was valid from 12/13/2023 to 12/27/2023 and included a requirement to plant an additional 30 trees. However, it has been observed that the developer has cut down more than the agreed-upon number of trees without planting any replacements. 

Moreover, there are concerns about why the city’s planning officer granted permission for building on riparian land, considering that the location is situated within the flood zone of the Mbagathi River and presents a significant hazard for any future development. It has come to light that the seizing and continuous building activities are taking place without involving the public, leading to the exclusion of the opinions of the community members and those living nearby. It is concerning how NEMA, the National Construction Authority, and Nairobi City County granted permission without a report on public participation. 

Still, on public participation, Article 62 of the constitution notes that all rivers, lakes, and all land between high and low water marks are public land and that government organs are obliged under Article 69 of the constitution to encourage public participation in the management, protection, and conservation of the environment. One wonders how the approvals were done considering that the land falls within riparian land, which the Environment Management and Coordination Act (Amendment, 2015) defines as land being 6 metres and up to a maximum of 30 metres on either side of a river bank from the highest watermark.

Further, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 Article 67 clearly states that riparian land is public land and should not be allocated to anyone. The letter reads in part, “We request that you urgently look into this matter and consequently stop the environmental degradation along the Mbagathi River and the forest and protect the land for a sustainable Karen neighbourhood.”.