As much as development is desirable, it should not be done at the expense of conserving our riparian. The destruction that came with heavy rains early this year when roads and residential estates got flooded because water could not find its natural level is still fresh in our minds.
Haphazard planning has resulted in the construction of buildings and other structures on riparian land, constricting, for instance, the flow of the Nairobi River that has been a great concern in recent years as the river increasingly becomes a repository of human and industrial waste that is being illegally discharged into the river. At least 66 per cent of the untreated waste is discharged into the Nairobi River.
Garbage from surrounding markets and informal settlements along the river bank finds its way into the river, thus worsening the pollution menace. Since 2008 there have been plans to move more than 12,500 informal settlement dwellers along the banks of Nairobi River. Consequently, Sh12 billion was set aside. In early 2017, Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) earmarked Sh2.5 billion to clean Nairobi and Athi Rivers. The results are yet to be seen.
The demolition of illegal structures on riparian land should be supported by all as the Nairobi County government finally embarks on cleaning the Nairobi River and reclaim all the riparian areas on which there is encroachment.
The demolition, however, should cut across the board and not spare some powerful individuals. Already, there are cries the demolition of the petrol station and eatery on Riverside Drive in Kileleshwa, Nairobi was selective. The affected should be given ample time to evacuate.