Persistent delay of construction approvals wrong

One of the most analysed plays in existence, if not the most is Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, with its ever-recurring question: “Is Hamlet’s madness feigned or real?” I incline to the argument that Hamlet is not a fully sane man at least in the play, we never find him completely sane.

On different occasions in the play, Hamlet behaves in a strange and abnormal manner not expected of a man of sound mind.

His misogynistic behaviour toward Gertrude and Ophelia can be seen as evidence that he really is going mad, because these scenes have little to do with his quest for justice.

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But on the flip side, we see evidence, in the play, of him assuming his mask of madness to thwart and baffle those who prevent him in his quest.

His feigned madness works to his own advantage, as it keeps the courtiers Claudius has assigned to spy on him, guessing about what is wrong with him. But we are unanimous that it would be a travesty of truth to say Hamlet is completely sane.

The theatrics at the helm of City Hall is akin to Shakespeare’s character Hamlet.

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The debate rages on, among pundits, whether the madness we have witnessed in Nairobi over the past two years is feigned or real.

I have a strong and probably biased opinion on this that I am hesitant to ventilate.

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But the majority agree that Hamlet’s madness whether feigned or real mustn’t be allowed to continue, more so in the construction industry.

In 2019, the construction industry in Nairobi bore the brutal brunt of a failed city construction approval system. It was unprecedented! For the sake of many in this sector genuinely trying to make a living in this city, this madness cannot continue this year.

I say madness because besides being a key revenue for Nairobi County, the construction industry contributes immensely to our GDP. In fact, countries have numerously used this industry as a stimulus to economic growth.

Yet despite our economic struggles post-election, we helplessly watched as Nairobi County hopelessly struggled with the consistent issuing of building approvals. Isn’t that madness?

The county technical planning committee that sits to issue construction approvals shouldn’t meet at their pleasure or postpone building approval sittings at will since such actions have an immense effect on the industry.

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How such an important planning technical committee of Kenya’s capital city can fail to meet for months is fathomable.

The online drawings submission portal faced some challenges last year, there were times the system was either down or suspended.

We must have an improved better service this year. The backlog projects for approval, if any, need to be expeditiously cleared.

These projects would greatly make life worthwhile for a number of Kenyans. Or how do we expect the people this industry employs to survive, even thrive? This Hamlet’s madness whether feigned or real must not continue in 2020.

We cannot dictate who the Governor, or whoever is in charge, hires or fires at the planning department.

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All we plead for is someone who can perform the functions of ensuring the approval technical committee meetings take place and the online portal is working.

It is time we had an honest conversation about whether we should revert Nairobi City to the national government or not. I think we should.

The uninterrupted operations of activities in this city is way too important to our country that even the mere thought of having such madness in future should be a deterrent.

Nairobi is the lungs through which the whole breathes. We should selflessly guard it. It does not require other drama to teach us. We have tasted the pudding for nearly eight years now.

- The writer is chairman of Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. [email protected]

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