Explain reason behind alienation of Nairobi sewerage plant's land

Kajiji, Sewage area of Kariobangi North the Dandora Water sewerage treatment fenced after residents were evicted from the land. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The privatisation of Ruai sewerage land by Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki raises pertinent questions that should not go unanswered.

The main one is what the motivation for the conversion of part of the Dandora Waste Water Treatment Plant's vast from public utility to private land is. Notably, Prof Kindiki's December 15 gazette notice set the ground for alienation of 1054.6 hectares out of the 1618.7 hectares set aside for the plant.

“Subdivisions of L.R. No. 12979 being L.R. 12979/3, measuring 404.58 hectares and L.R. No. 12979/4, measuring 650.02 hectares are excluded from the Dandora Waste Water Treatment Plant (Ruai), Protected Area Order, 2020,” said the notice.

What other, more important, project is planning on this land that was set aside for sewerage treatment at independence?

Some might argue that the land is too big to be used merely for sewage treatment. However, we need to appreciate that the population of the city - that currently stands at above five million - is growing fast. It is projected that Nairobi will have a population of 10.4 million people by 2050.

In another 50 years, the population will most likely have doubled again. Will the land that has been left be enough to cater for the expansion of the sewerage plant to cater for such a huge population, or will the then generation of Nairobians rue the decision that the Kenya Kwanza government has taken today?

Another question is whether Prof Kindiki has powers to take the action that he has. From the best of our knowledge, it is not the work of a CS to change public utility land to private or to any other category.

The Constitution creates the National Land Commission (NLC) whose main mandate is to manage public land. One cannot help but wonder why it is Kindiki, and not NLC, who has done that. 

Any conversion of public land to private land, as the CS has purported to do, should not be done casually by way of a gazette notice. One can also raise the question of why that mandate, if that is indeed possible, should fall in the docket of the Interior CS and not the Lands CS.

Finally, there is the whole question of national values and principles of governance one of which is public participation. The values and principles bind all persons and, more so State officers, when interpreting the law or implementing policies. Whether Prof Kindiki consulted the public before taking a very serious decision, that will affect not only the current but also future generations, is anyone’s guess.

The government should therefore do the needful—it should explain to Kenyans why it unilaterally decided to hive off land meant for public good for reasons that it is yet to explain to the public. We believe that whatever projects the government wants undertaken on the said land are for public good. The public must, however, be educated on the importance of the projects and so that they can give their approval. That is what democracy demands of the government.