If there is one thing that binds all governmental authorities around the world, it is their unalienable right to make laws. However, the nature of some laws might make some chafe under the very thought of keeping them and Nairobi County is not an exception. Peter Muiruri singles out some of the bylaws in Nairobi County that you might find strange. And should they be implemented more than half of the population in the city would be cooling their heels in jail
No blowing nose or spitting
Hygiene means different things to different people. There are those who are quite okay with squeezing their noses with their fingers and blowing plugs of thick mucus onto the ground. However, the city government has decreed that blowing your nose other than in a suitable piece of cloth is an offence.
The coming cold months of June and July are no excuse. While at it, be warned that spitting on footpaths could also land you in jail. If you have ever been convicted of these offences, please help us by sharing exactly how the evidence that convicted you was collected.
No signals in and out of parking
Are you are a driver? Then know that the Government has entrusted you with a very heavy responsibility. The city government also recognizes such trust bestowed upon you in handling all matters pertaining to driving that they consider it such an abomination for anyone to either signal you into or out of a parking lot in town. It is a crime punishable by law. So if your passenger or the so-called 'parking boys' try to be philanthropic and give you such directions, remind them of what might befall them – a very long day with Nairobi County askaris.
Six or more passengers must queue
Nairobi, as we know it is an orderly city, very orderly. In order to assist the equally orderly matatu operators carry passengers safely to their destination, the city government decreed that if six or more persons are waiting to enter a matatu at a terminus or designated stopping place, they must first form a queue. Note: not three, four or five persons but six or more. By the way, it is also illegal to enter a matatu "through elsewhere apart from the door."
Animals should keep peace
Beware! That lovely white dog, cat or cockerel has the potential to land you in trouble with the authorities. According to the city's Animal control By-laws of 2009, "no owner of a dog shall permit it to cry or bark in a manner which disturbs the quiet, peace, rest or comfort" of your neighbour. Should this happen, be ready to part with a fine of at least Sh2,000 or a jail term that is no more than nine months.
And since the rules stipulate that poultry may also constitute animals that can cause such public nuisance, it is time you slaughtered that cock your uncle gifted you in your last visit to the village.
No philandering animals allowed
While we are still at animals, the county authorities will not be amused if your female dog that is on heat comes into contact with other (male) dogs that do not belong to you. According to rule 14(f) of 2009, such dogs shall be impounded for such unbecoming behaviour. As a consolation that little 'darling' is not being mistreated, the same rule states that the County "shall supply adequate food and water to such dogs in lawful custody."
You can be arrested, prosecuted and even jailed for sitting in one spot for long in the city. It is criminal to while away time at 'Jobless Corner' opposite the city's Hilton Hotel. You are better off relaxing at recreational places like Uhuru Park, Central Park, City Park and Jeevanjee Gardens.
Cleaning your gate and car
You can forget spending your Saturday afternoons washing your car. It is illegal. "Washing, repairing or dismantling any vehicle in a prohibited area, except in the case of emergency, is illegal," reads the bylaw. Washing of gates and the consequent discharge of water from the premises is prohibited. It is even illegal to harvest rainwater from one's premises.
Forget the TV aerial
Residents in some estates have even run into trouble with council askaris for allegedly erecting television aerials on the roofs or repainting their private houses without written permission from the county government.
Are you a chatter box? Be careful. Making "any kind of noise" in Nairobi is illegal. A disclaimer though: In case of a fire, you are allowed to shout – fire!.
No burning garbage or cutting trees
It is a crime to just wake up and decide to fell trees without prior permission of City Hall! And in several estates across Nairobi, residents often collect and burn garbage around their houses unaware they are committing a crime.
Fence is a must
All residential houses must have have proper fences. Without saying what proper fence is, the bylaw indicates that lack of a fence or poorly done fencing fence can land one in jail.
Keep the toilet clean
Have you ever entered a public lavatory in the city and saw scribbled on the wall, "I was here"? Well, the lavatory regulations in the city have criminalized such uncouth behaviour. The city's public health officers will one day catch up with such or so we hope.