Why other counties need to learn from Nairobi’s mistakes

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself, or so goes a popular maxim. Here is where counties that are now just picking up need to look at the major urban centres and learn from their mistakes.

Gaps or weaknesses in building regulations and monitoring have been blamed for the high number of structures coming up without the necessary approvals. The biggest number of such unregulated structures can, naturally, be found in Nairobi. It is, however, important not to blame the construction boom of the last decade for the hole we find ourselves in as a nation. Many of these came up over the last century.

It is also important that homeowners who built their homes at times when there was a vacuum in these laws and their implementation are not punished. And here is the big lesson that other counties should learn from the major urban centres. Development will happen whether you are ready for it or not. People will continue building every day whether your county has a proper master plan or not. 

The major urban centres were caught napping and today the results are evident, poor planning and retrospect enforcement of regulations.

It is a trap many smaller towns are getting into at an alarming rate. It is not surprising to find urban centres without a proper sewerage system in place and when there is it only caters for a small section of the population. All this time, people further away from such facilities are busy building and digging pit latrines and septic tanks. All this because those supposed to provide such services are playing catch-up. In a few more years when such counties will be struggling to re-plan neighbourhoods and townships, it will be too late to have any meaningful change if the whole place is already built up and occupied.

Look at the amounts the government is spending moving people from areas where they are expanding roads in Nairobi and other areas. On Outering Road alone, as of last year, Sh3 billion was needed to acquire land from Jogoo Road to the Taj Mall roundabout, a distance of less that five kilometres!

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