Coastweek -- Demolition
of property or structures by any arm of the administration in
this country is a painful thing to witness,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
happens in fits and starts and somehow whatever is removed finds
its way back if the intended purpose of the demolition is not
achieved within say six months.
December last year and January this year there was heightened
demolition activity in Mombasa and Kilifi counties.
about it in this column at the time.
others that I have seen since, the modus operandi is the same.
vehicles carrying police and the other relevant officials arrive
and move the crowds away.
also warn the occupants of the structures that demolition is
about to begin.
structures are empty then well and good. Sometimes, the
structures may have been emptied but the owners are lurking in
the vicinity with their own goons in the hope that they can stop
the action through roughing up the demolition team.
latter option is no longer available as the demolition teams
these days arrive with some serious fire power that only stupid
goons would challenge.
action is that low loaders arrive carrying the demolition
targeted properties and structures are precisely located and the
equipment arrival is like clockwork.
minutes of arrival the work starts with crowds kept at bay.
demolition process is ruthless and there is no intention of
saving anything for salvage.
simply a destroy mission.
means that the action is swift and the team spends the minimum
time in one location and then moves on.
forward to today and nothing developmental is happening in the
areas cleared by the demolitions almost eight months ago.
wananchi are beginning to creep back into the spaces.
are tentative steps.
structures being put up are moveable ones.
occupiers are conscious of the fact that anything could happen.
in recent weeks one sees more permanent constructions taking
place and slowly but surely the pieces are falling into place
for more violent confrontations when the real work that was
intended is about to start and the demolitions then will be even
more ruthless and without notice.
According to Kachumbari, the first phase of demolitions was done
because the stakeholders involved in the discussions about the
construction of a new dual carriageway along the alignment would
not proceed with any discussions unless there was absolute
certainty that there would be unimpeded progress when
construction of the road started.
not an unreasonable request as various road projects have been
delayed due to the fact that certain portions of the intended
alignment had not been completely cleared of occupation by the
time the contract started and would not be completed by the time
the project was nearing completion.
instances, the presence of such obstructions led to doubling of
costs of implementation of infrastructure projects.
issue of encroachment was not just for roads but also for water
pipeline traces, airports, railways, public amenities as well as
of such project problems include the Southern bypass in Nairobi
where completion was delayed by nearly a year due to
compensation disputes with a landowner near the Galleria Mall.
also the case of the new high voltage electricity transmission
lines between Isinya and Rabai whose commissioning was delayed
because if a dispute between the government and the landowners
stopped the completion of a twenty kilometre stretch for nearly
two years when the rests of over five hundred kilometres had
are many more examples
last few weeks, the county government in Nairobi has also been
extremely active with demolitions.
started off with the usual demolitions of kiosks in road
reserves around areas where there were either complaints from
the occupiers of adjacent properties or where the road reserve
was taken up by the kiosks creating a traffic hazard by pushing
people onto the road from the pedestrian paths.
last week however, the demolitions in Nairobi moved a notch
higher to slightly more exotic motivations.
process had been followed by giving all the people who had
erected structures in riparian areas to clear out and demolish
the structures within three months.
were then given a week’s further notice.
day, the special team started demolitions and they started with
a structure that would give them the biggest visibility – a very
popular and busy petrol station belonging to a well-respected
multinational franchised brand.
operators had minimised the stocks they were holding but did not
expect that the demolition would be carried out.
process started very early in the morning on a Monday and it hit
all social media in a very short time – probably intended by the
demolition team in terms of choosing the spot and also the
property to demolish.
continued to demolish additional mid to high level properties
that had encroached on the riparian areas – defined as thirty
metres from the edge of the river.
river in question here was the Nairobi river and the location
was in Kileleshwa adjacent to the Arboretum.
expected that the demolitions will continue in earnest since
they are being done by a multi-agency and such teams are
normally difficult to stop due to the diverse authority
structure that it brings – unless of course one invokes the name
of the head of state.
current state of affairs in the country it is highly unlikely
that anyone – even “well connected” people would get a reprieve.
lingering question is – what then?
cleared the riparian areas of illegal structures and
encroachment, one would expect that there would be a plan to
secure the area so that it does not again degenerate into the
same state that it has now.
Nairobi River has many drains that discharge effluent into it ,
most of the time hidden by the developments in the riparian
areas. Sometimes the developments themselves discharge effluent
and garbage into the river.
will the process go?
be limited to Nairobi only or will the other county governments
take the cue and do the same and clear all the road reserves and
riparian areas of occupation?
about the wananchi in the rural areas who have taken over the
river banks for cultivation or drained the wetlands so that they
can have places to grow crops as the population pressures and
subdivision of family land creates a scarcity of arable land?
the cleared areas be secured so that people do not start to use
them again – and without permission as the attention of the
county government and the central government will have moved to
other new pressing issues to continue policing the areas that
are prone to encroachment?
aware that there was a project by some renowned architectural
firm to restore the Nairobi River and two other rivers -
Mathare and Mbagathi.
involved starting the cleaning from the river’s head by capping
off all effluent streams that could be discharged into the river
either through repairing of existing sewers orredirecting those
that were illegally directed to the rivers and finally creating
alternative dumping grounds for waste so that dumped material
would not be washed into the rivers and pollute them.
river waters were cleaned, the riparian areas would be turned
into properly constructed walkways so that people could walk
along the river banks.
also envisaged that where possible pools created to enhance the
look and feel of the riparian areas.
to enhance security, the whole of the river bank development
would be provided with solar lighting and CCTVs all controlled
and monitored from a special location. Once the whole of the
river from the head to the eastern boundary of Nairobi County
was rehabilitated then additional leisure activities were to be
of Nairobi River around Globe Cinema roundabout would have a
small dam to create a small lake for recreational purposes.
Nairobi Dam that was once a lively water sport place would also
be rehabilitated to have mixed use of the water facility with
water sports as well as waterfront recreational areas.
whole plan was extremely well thought out but the problem was
the willingness of the authorities to dare start the evictions
and then follow up with the enforcement of the effluent
discharge rules into water.
can hope is that this clearing of the riparian areas that has
started is one that will be sustained to the bitter end and that
the authorities will work with civil society, private sector and
development agencies such as the United Nations Environment
Programme, to restore our rivers in Nairobi to their former
glory and then upgrade their use.
important is that all counties should follow to either protect
their areas and then invest in the development of recreational
and retail facilities that will be preserved.
like we said last week.
programme for Nairobi was one that was mooted and is being
driven by the head of state.
governors follow suit in their counties?
Kachumbari says, our leaders need to recognise what is good for
the long term and positively embrace the ideas and then enrol
the population so that the developments will last beyond their
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