Plans to regularise city's unauthorised buildings timely

Author Nashon Okowa. [File, Standard]

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Remember the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in the book of John Chapter 8.

His response to the Teachers of Law and Pharisees mirrors what I would say to those remarkably against the proposal by the Nairobi county to regularise illegal unauthorised developments. "Let anyone who does not live, work, shop etcetera in an illegal building, be the first to oppose this proposal."

I have said it before, let me repeat for the record; in my view nearly every building in this city is illegal. In fact the joke these days is that, if you throw a stone in any direction in this city it will likely hit an illegal building.

No, carefully scrutinise the apartment buildings, malls, petrol stations, schools, offices and other commercial spaces that have been erected over the last decade or so - illegalities galore. Who are these strangers in Nairobi opposing regularisation?

There are a plethora of buildings in this city that have complete disregard to the prescribed density; plot ratio and ground coverage. Is there any development done in the last decade that is without blemish?

Come then to those built illegally beacon to beacon without proper ventilation and lighting, you will sweep nearly half of the buildings in Eastlands. Then you have those built on road and riparian reserves, water and sewer lines. That notwithstanding, you have those constructed without the supervision of registered consultants and contractors as required by law. Is there still any building left standing in Nairobi city?

The Nairobi county built environment has omnipresent screaming illegalities, the only remedy is regularisation. When the government started demolitions in 2018, those of us in the sane world vehemently opposed it. It was ill-advised, rushed and unsustainable. If you're going to start demolishing illegal buildings in this city, don't use bulldozers, use bombs probably. We will have no city at the end of it. It reinforces the case for regularisation.

Let's start with the admission that there have been numerous mistakes coupled with corruption and impunity; mistakes in approvals by the construction authorities, supervision and implementation. To clean up this mess, amnesty must be accorded so that those who have illegal buildings regularise them. During regularisation, we will be able to, at the minimum, improve our architectural landscape.

I agree that buildings on public land, road and riparian reserves, must be brought down after regularisation. The proposal by the county, hence, is a great opportunity for residents to have a conversation on how we can clean up the past mess and forge a roadmap of what we want going forward.

I commend the county leadership for thinking about such an initiative, some of us have been calling for it year in. Together with city re-zoning planning, they are in my view at the crux of ending the rumpus in Nairobi.

If we don't do this exercise pronto, I fear that one day we will get a tyrant leader who will mercilessly bring all these buildings down. Let he that stays, shops, or works in a legal building throw the first stone. If there is none, as I suspect there isn't, let the county proceed with this process. It is welcomed!

-The writer is author 'Don't Buy That House'