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January 24, 2019

Look beyond demolitions to who is responsible

A bulldozer brings down a building that houses Java coffee shop in Kileleleshwa, August 6. /COURTESY
A bulldozer brings down a building that houses Java coffee shop in Kileleleshwa, August 6. /COURTESY

State agencies yesterday began pulling down illegal structures on riparian areas in Nairobi. The exercise is said to target about 4,000 buildings on prohibited areas such as river banks and road reserves.

Some of the buildings earmarked for demolition were erected despite spirited public opposition and in flagrant defiance of the law. They are the creatures of impunity and abuse of office.

The losses from the demolition will run into billions, affecting the investors as well as hundreds who operate businesses on the premises. Jobs will be lost and much more in the supply chain. It may be the price to pay for physical order, preservation of the environment and infrastructure development.

The owners were reportedly issued with notices but the demolition raises fundamental questions that must be addressed.

How were these structures put up in the first place? The process of constructing any structure involves a long list of approvals, not least of which is the Environmental Impact Assessment report. If indeed the including building plans were approved, what is being done to those officials responsible? We expect charges of complicity or negligence to be preferred against these corrupt or incompetent officials, followed by swift dismissal from office.

Yet it is not the first time such an exercise is being undertaken. Many condemned buildings are still standing, thanks to political influence and legal and other interventions. Hopefully, this time round there is political will.


Quote of the Day: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

Napoléon Bonaparte

The French Emporer ordered reinstatement of slavery on St Domingue (Haiti) on August 7, 1802.


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