By Muchiri Waititu
A recent occurrence in Eastleigh in Nairobi made me quite amused the other day.
A gentleman who had recently purchased a commercial plot had gone ahead to commence the erection of a boundary wall only to be arrested by City Council askaris.
He must have had a ‘silver tongue’ because he was released two hours later only for him to get a friendly visit from the Ministry of Labour and Nema. They issued notices to him to stop construction. Failure to stop “immediately henceforth” (I wonder where all bureaucrats get this language) would lead to unexplained consequences in accordance to the Environmental Management and Coordination Act as well as the Factories Act.
In desperation, the harassed man sought the services of a professional who took him through the hurdles he was required to overcome in order to attain his dream of being a landlord.
He is still trying to get his refund from the person who sold him the plot.
Before I explain the steps one needs to take before getting a building permit (and what the Eastleigh gentleman was advised), let me explain how things work in a neighbouring East African country.
Sometimes, in order to understand a problem, one needs to comprehend the opposite. To understand darkness, one needs to see the light.
In that country, there is a government body, which houses the equivalent of our National Environment Management Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Registrar of Companies, City Council, Ministry of Lands and Ministry of Planning among others; a one-stop shop inter departmental agency, which makes no fuss about its service delivery capabilities.
Registration of a new company is accomplished in two days flat, tax registration in an hour, and a building permit is ready in two weeks (if they have not reverted in two weeks, then the project is deemed “approved” by default).
Yours truly was pleasantly surprised when he received a call originating from the country’s agency inquiring why I had a perimeter wall with electric fencing in my project yet this was not allowed. Sensing my consternation, he explained that this was unnecessary since there was remote possibility of someone trying to jump into the project and anyway, they were very unpleasant aesthetically.