President Ruto Retracts Plan to Lift Eastleigh Building Cap

President William Ruto laying a stone at an affordable housing project.

President William Ruto has reversed his previous controversial endorsement to lift the 12-floor cap on buildings in Eastleigh, proposing an increase to 30 floors.

Ruto reversed the decision at the celebrations of the Kenya Air Force’s (KAF) 60th anniversary on Saturday, June 8.

Ruto highlighted the dangers posed by unauthorised building heights near Moi Airbase, stressing the need for compliance with established standards.

Addressing the matter, President Ruto stated, “Let me also commit in discussions with the county of Nairobi, we will make sure that this facility does not lose its premier position.”

He added, “All buildings that have been built beyond the height that is provided for in law, we will work with Nairobi City Council to make sure that all developers adhere to the standards agreed upon with the Kenya Air Force and Kenya Defence Forces.”

In May, Ruto suggested that removing the building cap would address accommodation challenges, providing citizens with more housing options and improving living conditions, particularly for slum dwellers.

President William Ruto inspecting a guard of honour at Moi Air Base, Nairobi.

"Since I am the Commander in Chief, I have said that in Eastleigh, you couldn't build a house beyond 12 floors but now we can build storey buildings of up to 30 floors so that citizens can get accommodation and live in a harmonious neighbourhood," he had stated.

President Ruto's recent backtrack on lifting the building cap in Eastleigh stands in stark contrast to Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja's earlier assertions in March 2023. 

At that time, Sakaja had announced the removal of the floor limit, allowing landlords to construct buildings upwards of 25 floors.

Previously, residential apartment buildings in Nairobi were restricted to four floors, with developers prohibited from surpassing this limit. 

Sakaja's rationale for lifting the height restriction was grounded in the need for efficient emergency evacuation procedures, particularly in areas close to airports where the President's swift evacuation might be necessary during crises.

The initial proposal sparked a heated debate, with Sakaja being forced to defend the move.

Sakaja explained that the decision followed discussions with President Ruto, aimed at expanding Nairobi’s infrastructure.

On Citizen TV, Governor Sakaja said, "The reason we have that airbase was to evacuate VVIPs or the President in case of an emergency. I had told him if he tried to use that route, he will get stuck because the place is chocked."

Sakaja noted that the restrictions had caused significant traffic delays in Eastleigh and that Ruto had engaged urban experts before deciding to lift the height restrictions. “He actually thought about it and he engaged his urban experts and they lifted the restrictions there," Sakaja added.

Despite these discussions, the government is now set to revisit and potentially halt the plan to raise building heights to 30 floors.

President Ruto has made it clear that the safety and operational requirements of the Moi Airbase take precedence, ensuring that Nairobi County does not proceed with any plans to exceed the current 12-floor limit.

President William Ruto assents the Affordable Housing Bill into law at State House on March 19, 2024.
President William Ruto assents the Affordable Housing Bill into law at State House on March 19, 2024.