The Development Control Authority (DCA) has broken its silence on the controversial bulldozing of a food shack in Parham earlier this month.
It released a statement over the weekend clarifying what it dubbed “incorrect and misleading” statements surrounding the “illegal” shed that was owned by Kimani Gardner.
The incident raised the ire of many residents when the matter was made public on January 14through social media.
After the demolition of the shop, Malcolm Reid – one of the operators of the business – said that he was at a loss as to why the structure was torn down.
Reid told Observer that he and a group of friends had received a stop order from the DCA in January 2021 for building without permission, but he said approval had been granted in March last year until March 9 2022.
Reid said things appeared to be okay until they received notice to vacate the land, but he was of the view – after further talks with the DCA – that they would still be allowed to operate until the March 9 deadline.
However, in the statement dated January 21, Chief Town and Country Planner Frederick Southwell said a one-year permit had been granted to occupy the land in question from March 2021 to March 2022, for the sole purpose of selling fruits and vegetables from the farm the man operated utilising a 10×10 structure, and the entrepreneurs told that further permission must be sought for the construction of any fixed structure.
He explained that Gardiner produced a “crude freehand sketch” of a proposed structure, which was rejected by a building inspector due to its inadequacy, and that a professional drawing was never produced despite DCA’s request for one.
Southwell explained that in the following months the body observed unapproved extensions being made to the shed, and that a written request from Gardner to the authority for help getting utilities from APUA was also rejected because the permission-to-occupy conditions were not being honoured.
Southwell claimed that it was discovered that Gardner was using the site for other activities to include the cooking and selling of food, the playing of very loud music, and what he termed “unwholesome practices”.
Reid later told Observer that he was made aware of claims that there were illicit activities at the shop, including the sale of marijuana, but denied the accusations.
The DCA said it wrote to Gardner on January 3 giving him five to seven days to have the structure removed.
Gardner was reportedly further advised in person at the DCA headquarters following receipt of the removal notice that the structure would not be allowed, based on what was subscribed in the permission to occupy he had received from the Lands Division, noting that the Physical Planning Act 2003 had been contravened.
Southwell added that the DCA fully supports entrepreneurial developments, particularly those that “uplift the youth and positively impact society”, but pledged that it would continue to carry out its responsibilities as prescribed under the country’s laws, specifically the Physical Planning Act 2003.