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Ruto should stop issuing roadside declarations

Editorial
 President William Ruto with Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika at the Akurino National prayer conference at Nakuru High School on June 9, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Barely a month, after he supported the construction of high-rise buildings in Eastleigh, Nairobi, President William Ruto, has gone back on his word.

While presiding over the 60th anniversary of the Kenya Air Force at Moi Air Base in Eastleigh on Saturday, Dr Ruto warned developers to observe building height limits in the area.

Existing rules limit buildings in Eastleigh to 12 floors, but the President had in May said they could build up to 30 floors. In April this year, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja said he had engaged the President to allow the construction of high-rise buildings to accommodate the rapidly growing city population. 

According to Sakaja, Nairobi’s population is expected to hit 10.5 million people by 2050 yet there is no land on which to erect more houses. The alternative, therefore, is the removal of height restrictions on buildings. Ruto appeared to read from the same script as Mr Sakaja when he encouraged developers to erect buildings up to 30 floors last month. What changed to make him go back on his words? 

It is not lost on Kenyans that in their quest for popularity, politicians often ignore the valuable input of experts. Weeks before the onset of heavy rains that caused devastation across the country a few months ago, Ruto announced that there would be no heavy rains as predicted by the meteorological department.

Construction of buildings on road reserves and riparian land is common despite clear regulations against such activities. Currently, the government is busy demolishing buildings on riparian land that have been existent for years. This raises the question; where were the regulatory agencies when they were being erected, from start to finish? We cannot also forget that this is the same government that promised that people would never be evicted inhumanely from their homes as happened during President Uhuru Kenyatta's leadership.

All said and done, we cannot afford a return to the era of roadside declarations that overlook expert advice. Technical, safety and security matters should be left to those versed in the fields while politicians stick to fulfilling the promises they made during campaigns.

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