Against demolitions


The government of Kenya and many of its agencies have been demolishing houses they claim were built on reserves or on public land. Others to be brought down, they claim were built sans the requisite approvals.

It takes anything from 90 to 180 days to get a development approval from the Nairobi City government. Who has all the time to wait for a government unable to act in its best interest? If I put up a development without necessary approvals after making an application for the same, I don’t think it is right to demolish my structure. It makes no sense. There should be cures such regularisation and some other measures.

Suppose someone has built on public land, I think demolition is again madness. Acquire the building & use it for the purposes that land was allocated, if this is possible or put it up for public use. Those who build on road reserves, school land, hospital land, these I have little sympathy.

Finally, there are buildings on riparian areas. If a plot of land abuts a river, lake or ocean, I think one should build in a such a manner that they don’t grossly affect the micro-ecosystem. Their structures should not block access for members of the public to such commons.

Government agencies, developers and other stakeholders directly affected by these developments should have consultative meetings before development takes place to sort out any possible planning challenges than to wait until later then demolish buildings in the wee hours of the morning or night as the case may be.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

23 thoughts on “Against demolitions

  1. Mordanicus says:

    I saw this on The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/26/kenya-suffers-worst-locust-infestation-in-70-years-as-millions-of-insects-swarm-farmland

    I don’t know for sure if you already addressed this, but I guess not. Anyway, what are your leaders doing about this?

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  2. Arkenaten says:

    The problem with by-passing municipal building regulations/laws is that anyone can come along and put up a structure.
    I would be more than a tad pissed off is someone starting building in front of my property without building permission and I’d be camped outside the council every day ensuring it was torn down.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barry says:

    And here I was thinking “Four weeks for a building permit? That’s ridiculously long”. Seems like I might be ridiculously wrong when compared to Kenya.

    As I’ve boasted before, I live in the least corrupt nation, so an offer of a bribe will like mean that an application will be declines and/or you’ll get a visit from the constabulary.

    Here, if a construction that requires a permit is built without one, then technically the local authority has the power to remove it, but usually they will give the owner an opportunity to seek the necessary permits and/or ensure the construction fully complies with the regulations.

    Personally, if a construction is made without meeting regulatory requirements, then I think its on right and proper that either it be made to meet regulations, or it’s removed.

    A local example is the draining of swamps or wetlands for farming. Generally it’s unlikely you can get a permit to to this, so farmers sometimes simply convert a swamp into farmland hoping no one will notice. Until a decade or two ago, if a farmer was caught he’d simply be fined and that would be the end of the matter. Today, not only would the farmer be fined, but he’d be required to fully restore the land to its former state.

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    • makagutu says:

      Usually there is room for regularization. I think the big issue here is that the authority is not usually very transparent and is quite slow in granting development permits resulting in unregulated construction.
      4 weeks sounds a reasonable time for me.

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      • Barry says:

        Well that’s for a typical residential property. However, is a resort consent is required, then the process can be significantly longer, as the public consultation period can be lengthy and there’s always the possibility of if having to go before a planning commission and/oe the environment court. Then it could be 3, 6 or 12 months before a decision is made. Unless of course someone appeals the decision which could stretch it out for years…

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        • makagutu says:

          For being developments or resorts as such, the application for development must be accompanied with traffic studies, environmental impact assessments and all. These are expected to take time. But a single dwelling house within a residential neighbourhood shouldn’t take so long to be approved especially when it meets all the zoning ordinances

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    • basenjibrian says:

      Our Glorious President has decided this is silly. Anything that interferes with profits to be made raping and pillaging the land must be verboten. All must be sacrificed at the altar of expediency for the Investing Class.

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu says:

        he is the best president, he keeps repeating and he has in his genius decided regulations are not good in making america great again, so to hell with regulations

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      • Barry says:

        And that is exactly as he is perceived in this part of the world. Unfortunately that perception is also rubbing off on how we perceive America. The sooner you can be rid of him, the better off everyone, inside and outside America, will be.

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  4. basenjibrian says:

    But what if the building itself occurs in the wee hours of the morning?

    Just a wink and a nod?

    Plus, I think your post is internally inconsistent. There needs to be a process, but it should not take any time. Buildings should not infringe on the rights of the public or the ecosystem, but (effectively) if they do, well, then, it is silly to make a fuss about it. That is effectively what you are saying. The City needs housing, but who is to say illegal construction is the best approach to meeting that need?

    This is not one of your better posts, Maka.

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    • makagutu says:

      Talking of which, I have seen buildings that seem to grow overnight.
      You could be right that I am not consistent.
      First point is approvals shouldn’t take excessively long duration especially such as do not impact negatively on the environment for example a gatehouse to an already existing development.
      Demolishing housing without building others doesn’t help the city meet its housing needs. So what is to happen?

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  5. basenjibrian says:

    Well…I don’t know what the staffing levels are like. Sometimes there are reasons for longer review periods. 90 days for a fence seems excessive, I will admit! We don’t even require a building permit for a fence.

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