Karen Residents Oppose Art unit in Court over Cleanliness

Karen Ngong View Estate Association members went to court on 21/3/16 seeking to stop the construction of an arts and culture exhibition centre in Karen following a row with the National Environment and Management Authority (Nema) over their safety. Karen Ngong View Estate Association claims that the proposed Karen Village Culture and Heritage Centre, given the green light two years ago, may be a danger to their right to a clean, healthy as well as safe environment that is free from noise, stress and air pollution.

The residents are aggrieved that the project is set to be put up in a plot which they were aware was for residential purposes, but has apparently been earmarked for commercial use, thus set to disturb their quiet serene neighborhood. Through lawyer Kyalo Mbobu, the association has sued Nema and the owner of the property in dispute – L.R. No. 12882/3 dubbed as Karen Village Limited. They argue that any proposed measures to prevent noise, health and safety hazards as well as uncompromised security for the residents have not been shared or agreed upon. The group claims that as residents they should have been consulted on the planned change of the plot from residential to commercial use.

They also claims that their appeal to be provided with the project plan or details and halting the construction from going on have been ignored yet the works has commenced without due compliance with the law.

“The impunity exhibited by the sued parties can only be checked if an order stopping further construction works of a commercial Arts and Crafts Centre on the said plot in Karen is issued temporarily since the residents are not aware of the proposed Environmental Management Plan (EMP),” Mr. Mbobu says in court documents.

According to the association’s chair Josephat Ngile, on January 22, 2015, Nema ordered Karen Village to hold consultations over the intended development and to fully disclose the project particulars, its environmental impact and proposed mitigation measures. The construction works was allegedly stopped until evidence of the consultation was to be submitted to Nema but until February 9, 2015 no discussions had been held. To their surprise, they say on March 20, 2015 Nema wrote to Karen Village limited allowing building to continue.

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