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Approval of buildings in Nakuru to go digital

Nakuru County is setting up an automated online building approval platform for both commercial and residential investments to help address cases of fraud allegedly perpetrated by crooked land brokers and agents.

County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Finance, Mr. Iribe Njogu, said the platform will allow online submission of building proposals by architects and planners for evaluation and approval and automatically manage workflow to allow applications to be routed concurrently to the various technical evaluators.

The CECM further said that the online system will also be used to provide unique identifiers for all approved development plans.

By leveraging on technology, Mr. Njogu voiced the county’s commitment to improve accessibility, transparency, and accountability in its operations, adding that the new digital development system will eliminate the need for human interaction in the approval process, making it more efficient and transparent.

He said the online system is a milestone for the county and would go a long way in ensuring that building and construction industry services were done fast, cost-effectively, and efficiently, adding that the system will be automated for planning, building permits and approvals, occupancy permits, and conducting inspections online using smartphones and iPads.

In addition, the CECM said the system will help in the issuance of development permits, profiling of ongoing developments for the inspection process, support for the planning enforcement process, data collection on inspections, and archiving of all data.

The new system, Njogu added, is expected to boost the county’s Own Source Revenue (OSR) by a billion shillings by the end of this financial year through the elimination of bottlenecks that characterised the old system.

This kind of automation is said to have been successfully implemented in Kajiado, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, and Kisumu counties, with Mr. Njogu expressing optimism that the online portal will help reduce fraud cases perpetrated by crooked land brokers and agents.

While noting that the move was part of the implementation of business regulation reforms hoped to make Nakuru more investor-friendly, the CECM explained that developers will be able to track the progress of their approval applications, thereby staying updated.

“The automation is critical to enhancing Kenya’s competitiveness and will eliminate the tedious paper-based approval process,” said Mr. Njogu.

Nakuru has in recent years attracted huge interest from both residential and industrial warehouse developers due to the availability of vacant parcels of land in Naivasha, Salgaa, Bahati, Kabarak, Kiamunyi, Gilgil, and Sobea areas.

Mr. Njogu was happy that the rise in urbanisation had continued to attract large investments in residential housing, educational institutions, and industrial developments and said that the transformed land use across the county called for the deployment of technology to support the key functions of physical planning and construction permit issuance.

Speaking at the county headquarters, the CECM observed that online approvals had the capacity to cut the waiting time from at least 90 days to a maximum of 30 days.

By removing the bureaucracy and reducing corruption associated with human interaction, Mr. Njogu said the digital system will accelerate the approval process, benefiting both investors and businesses through ease of doing business.

“Nakuru is one of the fastest urbanising counties in Kenya. We need to control such growth so that we don’t become a slum in the next 20 to 30 years,” added Mr. Njogu.

By Esther Mwangi

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