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Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

 

CAR: Unfavourable prospects for 2018 crops due to persistent civil insecurity

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  • Unfavourable production prospects for 2018 crops due to generalized decline in cropping area as a result of deteriorating civil security situation

  • Food access continues to be severely constrained by disrupted livelihoods, reduced production and sharply-curtailed market activities

  • Food prices have risen in recent months

  • Dire food security situation for large segments of population, strong livelihood support required

Unfavourable production prospects for 2018 crops

The 2018 main maize harvest is currently underway in the southern bi-modal rainfall areas, while in the uni-modal northern provinces, sorghum and millet crops are being sown for harvest in October.

According to satellite-based information, favourable weather conditions prevailed from March during the cropping season in the southern maize-producing areas. However, persisting civil insecurity has negatively affected crop production following a significant reduction in area planted due to the abandonment of a substantial number of farms. Furthermore, the reduced aggregate output for five consecutive years has led to the depletion of the already inadequate household productive assets, particularly seeds and farming tools. As a result, the 2018 aggregate output is preliminarily estimated to be below average and significantly reduced compared to the pre-crisis levels in 2013.

Food prices have risen in recent months

Food prices have risen in recent months in most northwest, southeast and central conflict-affected areas as food and livestock markets continue to be disrupted by the ongoing conflict. In these areas, market activity and market supplies remain below average.

The average annual inflation rate declined in recent years and fell to 3.7 percent in 2017 compared to 4.6 percent in 2016. The general decline in prices was mostly demand-driven as disrupted livelihoods, reduced employment opportunities and limited availability have severely curtailed households’ purchasing power. In 2018, the average annual inflation rate is expected to fall slightly below the 2017 levels.

Alarming food security situation for large segments of population due to persisting conflict

Violent clashes and inter-communal tensions have continuously increased since 2017 resulting in the widespread disruption of agricultural and marketing activities as well as exacerbated the massive displacements, with a severe negative impact on both food availability and access. According to UNHCR, as of end-June 2018, the IDP caseload was estimated at about 608 000 people. The conflicts that led to the displacement of the populations is also restricting humanitarian access and disrupting agricultural activities.

Five consecutive years of reduced harvests, compounded by access constraints due to market disruptions and declining purchasing power, result in an alarming food security situation across the country. Furthermore, due to civil insecurity, it remains difficult to provide humanitarian assistance in many areas thus raising the concern of food insecurity. Since late 2017, the quantity of the food in-take for large segments of the population has been reportedly reduced and the dietary diversity has also drastically worsened through the substitution of more nutritious cereal and vegetable staples with cassava and the sharp reduction of animal proteins in-take. This widespread dietary deterioration raises serious concerns in terms of nutrition and health. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), valid for the period from March to August 2018, about 2 million people (34 percent of the total population) are estimated to be in need of urgent assistance (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”) of which more than 686 000 people face IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”.

Insecurity remains the leading cause affecting the households’ access to food and their livelihoods, making it difficult to conduct agricultural and livestock activities. A timely and effective support to the agricultural sector is required to mitigate the extent of the impact of the protracted and widespread insecurity on the agricultural sector.

To help avert a full-scale nutrition and food security crisis, FAO plans to assist 1.1 million severely food insecure people through the distribution of seeds and farming tools as well as providing cash transfers and income-generating activities.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


DPP orders speedy probe into graft claims as 30 court staff face charges

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has ordered for speedy investigations into alleged loss of funds at the Judiciary through various contracts.

Four internal audits revealed possible loss of funds and the Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi had already alerted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Judiciary Ombudsman to probe the matter.

“We wish to state that the Judiciary welcomes the OPP’s call for speedy investigations as described in his statement since this falls within our strict policy of zero tolerance to financial misconduct of any nature,”

said Ms Amadi.

REPRIMANDED

She added that some 30 Judiciary staff are currently facing charges of economic crimes and related activities in various courts while for people have been dismissed and six others reprimanded.

The contracts include a medical insurance cover, the conversion of former Income Tax House to the Milimani Law Courts and provision of security services to courts across the country. The probe will also include alleged theft of Sh36 million at the registries at the Milimani courts, using fake receipts.

“Upon receipt of the reports, the DPP consulted with Chief Justice David Maraga, who raised similar concerns. Consequently, the DPP has directed investigations to commence immediately by both the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission,” Mr Haji said.

REGULATIONS

In the medical insurance cover, the Judiciary entered into a contact with Jubilee Insurance Company for the provision of Group Medical Insurance at a contract sum of Sh648,297,521 for a period of 12 months with effect from September 2015.

The report said the Judiciary Tender Committee approved renewal of the contract at Sh808,056,889, which was 24.6 per cent variation of the original contract. The tender was later cancelled on October 3, 2016.

For the provision of security services, the audit reveals that the contracts were renewed without following procedures and regulations.

While for the conversion of the Milimani building, the construction was varied yet the orders were not supported by site instructions to the contractor, duly signed by the project manager and costed and signed by the quantity surveyor.

INVESTIGATIONS

The DPP directed the respective investigative agencies to file progress reports on investigations after every 21 days until conclusion of the probe. The audits, prepared by the Audit and Risk Management Directorate details how money could have been lost.

The Chief Risk and Internal Systems Auditor Ronald Wanyama said that during the conversion of the building, which cost the taxpayer about Sh1 billion, the contract was varied by Sh313,246,147 and some of the variations were not supported by the site instructions to the contractor N.K. Brothers.

The works were completed and eventually handed to the Judiciary of November 17, 2010 and handing over certificate issued. The project manager then prepared and issued a final certificate for payment of Sh116,825,566 dated January 30, 2015.

Further, the contractor was also to explain how the firm was procured to prepare directional signage at a cost of Sh8.3 million and justify why the Judiciary should pay Sh1,51,656 for maintenance contract with Office Technologies.


Let’s all support South Sudan for peace deal to hold this time round

Those doubting the historic peace agreement by the erstwhile belligerents in South Sudan with unsolicited opinions are troublemakers.

The people of the greater East Africa and the Horn can now breathe a sigh of relief after the combatants agreed to a ceasefire and to observe a peace deal that they signed in Khartoum.

Though there are some sceptics who view the new government in Juba as one of accommodation and not really a coalition, the South Sudanese rivals had to start somewhere.

The main focus is a cessation of hostilities that has displaced almost two million people and wreaked havoc in a country that has the means to grow since it has enormous oil resources.

Those quoting what President Salva Kiir has said time and again — that it would be impossible for him to work with his former deputy, Dr Riek Machar — are naysayers. South Sudan has reached a stage where the leaders have to accommodate one another for the sake of the citizens.

The new government will try to reconcile the warring tribes and prepare for an election in three years. The issue of tribe, which even Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has said has to be kept aside, should not arise at all.

President Kiir being a Dinka and Dr Machar a Nuer is not an issue.

That the peace agreement has roped in other players and rebels proves the arrangement has to work. Everybody can see the government will be bloated with five vice-presidents, a 35-minister transitional government and 550-member Parliament.

This, however, had to happen, and although President Kiir has complained bitterly about the bloated government and its funding, he has promised to ensure the agreement will, this time round, not collapse.

The region’s governments and continental bodies such as the AU, Igad and Comesa should ensure South Sudan returns to normalcy. President Kiir and Dr Machar have to swallow their egos and steer the newest nation to at least enjoy peace for once.

Those sowing seeds of doubt should forever keep quiet.

DAVID M. KIGO, Nairobi.

The escalation of violence over the past five years has forced many Kenyans, who happened to be the majority of foreigners in South Sudan, to return home together with other foreigners.

The peace accord signed on Sunday between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his deputy-turned-rebel, Dr Riek Machar, therefore, heralds a new dawn in this war-torn country.

JSEPH G. MUTHAMA, Kiambu.

It’s everyone’s hope that this time the South Sudan peace deal will hold and bring change. Kudos to the two leaders for having seen the light and hearing the cry of their followers.

WANJORA KIMANI, Nairobi.


Embrace new traffic rules to eradicate congestion in Nairobi

It is ironical how most Nairobi residents complain about congestion and influx of hawkers and boda boda riders within the CBD but it’s the same lot that rant on social media when solutions are offered to some of these issues.

According to the traffic rules rolled out by the Nairobi County government, commuters using Jogoo Road will alight at Muthurwa stage. A few metres would do no harm as you walk towards the CBD to your workplace. The same will apply to other routes as well with their designated points.

There will also be no more parking of PSVs within the CBD. The directive by Governor Mike Sonko to allow a matatu saccos to park at most two vehicles in the CBD should be embraced wholeheartedly.

Having stipulated pick-up spots will ease congestion within the CBD and ease the movement of people, goods and vehicles within the city.

This move will not only benefit commuters but the country as a whole. If we all adhere to the new rules, Nairobi will never be the same again.

We are about to revive what was once the green city in the sun’ as the issued of congestion and traffic will have been solved once and for all.

This rule should also be seen as having health benefits. It has brought about the opportunity to walk around and exercise the body.

It is high time we shift our minds if we want to effect reforms and uphold basic rules.

ROBERT MBEYA, Nairobi.


‘Crocodile’ wins in Zim: This is no continent for the young leaders

By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO
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Less than a year after coming to office in a military-engineered change that ousted the autocratic Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a disputed election last week.

Trouble immediately broke on August 1, after the announcement of the parliamentary election results which saw Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF winning a two-thirds majority. Opposition MDC Alliance supporters took to the streets, alleging the election had been stolen.

In a return to the bad past, the army met with them with live bullets. Nearly a dozen were killed.

INTIMIDATED

When the presidential results were announced days later, Mnangagwa, nicknamed the crocodile, had won by a razor thin margin – 50.8 per cent.

Though the margin looked democratic, the MDC’s Nelson Chamisa, who placed second, rejected it as fraudulent.

The opposition has a case in alleging that the playing ground wasn’t level; opposition supporters were intimidated in some areas of the country, and ZANU-PF and Mnangagwa profited from state resources and control of state media.

However, the Zimbabwe economy is still a shambles, and plagued by shortages of most things including hard currency. So while the wanton repression and general madness of the Mugabe years are gone, this baggage was thought to be sufficient to drag Mnangagwa and his ZANU-PF down and cancel out the advantages of incumbency. It didn’t.

Even though no liberation party has yet been defeated in an African election, the youthful Chamisa didn’t help himself too much. For starters the opposition failed to form a broad united front, splitting their votes. Then Chamisa was derided as a fantasist and childish. Earlier in the year, he was mocked when he claimed credit for the achievements of Rwanda’s digital sector, alleging that he gave President Paul Kagame the blue print.

When Kagame said he didn’t know him, he posted a photo him greeting the Rwanda leader at a past public event. Presumably he passed his digital inspiration through a handshake.

During the campaign he promised bullet trains, and airports to very village he came upon. God knows Zimbabwe needs hope, but even to the optimists Chamisa was away with the fairies.

His faults notwithstanding, there was still something deeply troubling in Chamisa’s defeat. And it has been under our noses in many African elections.

Our politics, at least the rhetoric, give a very high premium to youth. Leaders like Chamisa, who is 40, are seen as the future. Though Mnangagwa is all of 19 years younger than Mugabe, he is still 75. But it didn’t place him as at disadvantage.

In Africa, except in rare cases like then-51-year-old Macky Sall defeating incumbent Abdoulaye Wade who was 86 in 2012, the youthful challenger more often than not loses. In Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf beat the much younger George Weah like a drum when they faced off.

The odds, tends to favour the more youthful candidate when he/she faces an older rival in an election where the incumbent has stepped down (Kenya in 2013, Angola in 2017).

It would seem that African voters are more conservative than they make out, trusting more the presumed wisdom of age, than the promise of youthful energy and innovation.

However, they also have a twisted sense of fairness, reasoning that the younger candidate still has many years ahead of him to be president, so he should let the old man enjoy his remaining few years.

Further, even in this age of ubiquitous FM radio, TV, and the mobile phone, we are likely still underestimating how hard it is a newbie like Chamisa to be known, and how slowly news travels in Africa.

Though things have changed a lot since, after the ouster of Ugandan military dictator Idi Amin in April 1979, an election was held in December 1980.

A popular politician went to campaign on the slopes of Mt Elgon, between Uganda and Kenya, an area with smuggling routes and therefore the people were likely to be worldly bootleggers.

The people assembled to hear to hear the man from the city, and his well-washed delegation. So he set forth, telling the people how he had played a heroic role in the defeat of Amin. How a new dawn had arrived, and he was going to restore the area to its past glory, and help propel Uganda back to greatness.

Then it was time for the masses to ask questions. The first man who put his hand up asked: “What happened to Amin?” They didn’t know he had been chased away 18 months ago.

Mr Onyango-Obbo is the publisher of Africapedia.com and explainer Roguechiefs.com. Twitter: @cobbo3


Don’t let jumbos disappear

By GORDON MUTUGI
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The steep increase in the number of protected animals that are hunted down and killed for their parts has drawn focus to the wild and prompted official measures to combat poaching — efforts that have been intensified of late.

In Kenya, the causes of species loss have varied through time and include hunting, pollution, invasive species, habitat loss and climate change.

These generally mirror the threats to animal species around the world. Kenya has, however, made significant progress in reducing some of these threats and helping some species to recover.

Locally, one of the most endangered animals is the elephant. Reports indicate that an elephant can live up to 70 years without human interference. Yet they face extinction due to poaching.

Animals are so important to human life and the eco-system that extinction of seemingly small animals such as ants could spell total collapse of human life.

GIANT MAMMALS

With the few remaining species of giant mammals — including elephants — largely confined to Africa, it’s up to us to know better and do better.

Man and elephant co-existence makes for some interesting facts. For example, during the dry season, elephants use their tusks to dig for water.

That not only allows them to survive in dry environments but also provides water for other animals that share these harsh habitats.

Did you also know that seeds, such as those of the Acacia plant, have a 90 per cent chance of germinating if deposited in elephant dung?

On the savannahs, elephants feeding on tree sprouts and shrubs help to keep the plains open and able to support the game that inhabit them.

GO EXTINCT

If all their services were gone tomorrow, many plants would go extinct. Many birds would die from lack of food and soil formation would largely halt. The knock-on effects would be huge as food webs collapse and the world falls apart.

The most precious thing about an elephant isn’t its ivory; rather, it’s its ability to influence its natural environment and, in turn, man’s, for the better. After human beings, elephants have more influence over their environment than any other species.

Future generations depend on animals such as elephants. Yet, strangely, while we care for our children, we don’t care much about the creatures on which they depend now and in the future.

Our focus must be on increasing awareness on the critical role elephants play in our eco-systems. From a corporate point of view, organisations are no longer focused on only making profit but also being mindful of the society and the environment they operate in.

ECOLOGICAL BALANCE

Global brand Amarula has been involved in elephant conservation through The Amarula Trust Foundation. It’s one of the ways through which businesses are stepping in to help humanity, aware of the role corporates need to play in maintaining the ecological balance.

In a heartfelt attempt to raise awareness for the World Elephant Day, which is celebrated every August 12, Amarula cream liquor launched the “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign — a joint initiative with African wildlife conservation organisation WildlifeDirect. Kenya and other countries — including the United States, Canada, South Africa, Brazil and Germany — are participating in the global campaign.

On Sunday, for the first time, an ice sculpture of a life-size elephant will slowly melt in Nairobi, dramatically symbolising the disappearance of the elephant population.

This, hopefully, will create awareness about the need to conserve the elephant population worldwide.


Improving port infrastructure critical to national development

By PETER WARUTERE
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The port of Mombasa is the gateway to East Africa and its performance revs up or stifles the expansion of the economies of Kenya and its neighbours. Despite the inefficiencies often reported about its operations — from congestion to slowness by Kenya Ports Authority and other agencies supposed to facilitate movement of cargo — its modernisation is driving up prospects for efficiency.

A unique and historic achievement reported by KPA should be the norm. In June, a Liberian ship offloaded 3,872 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent containers) in under eight hours. That’s speed of 140 gross moves an hour, compared to an average of 40 gross moves an hour for all ships.

470 MILLION TONNES

Efficiency is a key driver of the competitiveness of port operations and KPA should focus on attracting more global business. Now that it has engaged Marine and Business Solutions, a Rotterdam-based Dutch firm, to advise it on a master plan for development of eight small ports under KPA’s management, there’s no better comparator on efficiency than the port of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port with an annual cargo turnover of 470 million tonnes, is rated by the World Economic Forum as the most efficient. Its undisputed lead on efficiency for six consecutive years has boosted the Netherlands’ ranking as the first on quality of port infrastructure in the WEF Global Competitiveness Index. The country scored 6.8 out of seven points, ahead of Singapore (6.7) and Hong Kong (6.5), in the 2017-2018 index.

GREATER SPEED

Mombasa port is much smaller. Its annual turnover is just 30 million tonnes but increasing. Kenya’s score of 4.5 on the WEF scale ranks it at 55 out of 137 countries. It is significant, considering that it’s just behind giants China and Luxembourg (both scored at 4.6) and at par with Jordan, Greece, the Seychelles, Turkey, Switzerland and Sri Lanka.

Kenya is ranked fifth in Africa after Namibia, Morocco, South Africa and Egypt.

The more inspiring outcome of the survey is that Kenya’s score is improving. Presumably, the port infrastructure managed by KPA is producing better results and ships discharging and loading cargo at greater speed than before.

IMPORTANT LESSON

An important lesson for Kenya is how to transform Mombasa into the most efficient port in Africa, just as the Netherlands has turned Rotterdam into Europe’s best port connection. Efficiency and sustainable energy use are key to Rotterdam’s leadership in a world of shipping logistics  increasingly dominated by China and the Asian Tigers.

For four decades since 1962, Rotterdam was the world’s busiest port but it has been dethroned by the rapidly growing Asian ports including Singapore and Shanghai, now the busiest and getting busier.

Rotterdam’s efficiency is driven by huge investments in innovation and technological solutions that have transformed it into a smart port — where more technology and less people drive the logistics. Intelligent, computer-based systems load and offload containers, stack them in designated parking lots and move them around the port with precision. With 30,000 ships calling on the port yearly, that gives it a powerful edge.

DUTCH EXPERIENCE

The Dutch experience offers best practice lessons to KPA on how to develop a highly integrated and efficient futuristic infrastructure that interconnects the ports with other transport systems —including the standard gauge railway, the Northern Corridor, inland container depots and inland waterways.

Mombasa and the upcoming ports, including Lamu, should lead on efficiency to remain competitive in the cut-throat competition for shipping business from region — such as Dar es Salaam and Djibouti, which is becoming a powerful player following a major modernisation and expansion programme funded by China.

BUSINESS MODEL

Differentiating KPA’s business model through efficiency would improve the preparedness of the port infrastructure network to support the growth of Kenya and the East African Community, particularly with the emergence of new industries in oil and natural resources.

Highly integrated, efficient and sustainable business process at Mombasa and the other ports should fuel economic growth and social transformation.


Women threaten to sue over ban on HIV drug

By ELIZABETH MERAB
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HIV-positive women have threatened to go to court if the government does lift a ban on an antiretroviral drug recently found to cause birth defects in pregnant women.

Through International Community of Women Living with HIV-Kenya Vice Chairperson Patricia Asero, the women said the Health ministry’s decision to deny all women of reproductive age access to Dolutegravir (DTG) is unfair and curtails their right to attain the highest standard of care.

“DTG is a drug we have been dreaming to have access to and when the government makes a decision on our behalf without consulting us, it is denying us our fundamental rights,” she said.

“We take ARVs to suppress the virus and improve our health. Compared to Efavirenz, DTG has been shown to have better outcomes and, therefore, it is totally unfair for the government to deny us the drug.”

Health experts and civil society organisations have similarly disapproved the government’s decision to stop issuing the drug to women of childbearing age.

ISSUED FREE

DTG, also known as Tivicay, is issued for free in government facilities. The same drug, however, costs between Sh6,000 and Sh6,500 in pharmacies.

Last month the ministry ordered counties to stop prescribing DTG after preliminary findings of a study linked the drug to birth defects in HIV-positive women of childbearing age.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko also instructed county health directors to give Efavirenz, a first-line treatment, to women of childbearing age. He insisted DTG, launched in the Kenyan market last year, was not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women “due to limited safety data”.

Efavirenz (sold under the brand name Sustiva) is an anti-HIV drug that reduces the amount of virus in the body. Current World Health Organisation guidelines released in 2016 recommend Efavirenz as the preferred option in pregnancy.

BIRTH DEFECTS

Speaking to Nation, Dr Dismas Oketch, an HIV researcher at Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), said the ministry’s guideline may not have been the best approach given that therapeutic healthcare is highly individualised, meaning that what works for one patient may not work for another.

“The decision was based on the Botswana study for which we cannot authoritatively say that DTG caused the birth defects seen in babies born of mothers who were using the drug,” he said.

He further added that instead of the government stopping all women of reproductive age from using DTG, it should have put in place a guideline that allowed them to choose.

“For instance, if a woman is using an effective contraceptive method and has no intentions of being pregnant anytime soon, then she should be allowed to use DTG,” he said.


The rich also cry as demolitions come knocking

By JACQUELINE KUBANIA
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By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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When government bulldozers flattened houses in Kibera two weeks ago and left over 20,000 people homeless, most of Nairobi’s middle and upper class thought nothing of it, chalking it to just one more way in which life punishes the economically disadvantaged in this country.

However, the recent spate of demolitions this week have been targeted at Nairobi’s posher addresses, indiscriminately bringing down restaurants, houses, swimming pools along with perimeter walls and even entire malls, as happened at South End Mall on Lang’ata Road yesterday.

NOTICES EXPIRED

It is a season of reckoning for individuals who have spent a fortune to erect structures in Nairobi that are now being demolished, and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) says there will be no looking back.

Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu says they have a list of “quite a few” structures, whose exact number he could not disclose, and that the authority will be pouncing “at our own time to pull down sections of buildings that are closer than six metres from riparian reserves”.

“What I can tell citizens who are encroaching on riparian land is that all the notices we gave are expired,” Prof Wahungu told a local TV station on Tuesday.

SETBACK LIMIT

Owners of buildings brought down will be seeing more dust as they will have to reimburse Nema the costs incurred in tearing them down.

“They will pay us for the equipment. And therefore, it is good for them to start early and demolish before we come,” said the Nema boss.

Of note, he said, is that they are only demolishing sections of buildings that defy the six-metre setback limit from the Nairobi River.

HAPLESS TENANTS

“All the demolitions we are doing now were sanctioned in 2016, that is two years ago by an inter-ministerial presidential committee. Three months ago, we marked them again and gave these people notices. And even after three months we did not act for another two weeks. So, there has been adequate notice and no one can complain that they did not know,” said Prof Wahungu.

Buildings torn down so far are in areas that include Grogan, Kileleshwa and Lang’ata.

While some think that demolitions are a good move, others say that it is evidence of failure by Nema to stop construction of the building before it starts and has only served to put hapless tenants out on the streets while unscrupulous developers go untouched.

ZONAL GUIDELINES

Efforts to reach Nema to get a definite list of buildings on road reserves were unsuccessful, but satellite photos show that Nairobians have heavily encroached on riparian lands and choked rivers forcing them to alter their course in some cases.

Ms Peninah Mutonga, an architect with city firm ArchiDatum, told the Nation that the process of approving buildings is so stringent that were it followed properly, Nairobi would have been able to protect its waterways from the beginning.

“An architect submits a proposal to the Nairobi City Council, ensuring that it meets the building code, planning guidelines and zonal guidelines. The council puts together a team comprising of planning officers and officials from the health inspectorate and development control to review the proposal and OK it,” she said.

IGNORED DIRECTIVE

Once okayed by the county, the proposal is forwarded to Nema which gives the greenlight after ensuring that all environmental considerations, key among them protection of riparian reserves, have been met. But the system, while it looks fail-safe on paper, is made of fallible human beings who have distorted it to serve their own interests.

“Developers are able to flout building regulations by bribing officials to approve plans that do not meet the required standards, which is one of the reasons why we have ended up with so many buildings on riparian land,” said Ms Mutonga.

According to Ms Mutonga, many apartment blocks in Kileleshwa do not meet the required distance from waterways, as are other developments in Spring Valley and Brookside, both lush suburbs in the northern part of the city. Prof Wahungu says owners of such buildings have been getting clearance to build while keeping a six-metre distance from the river, but they have often ignored that directive.

REGENERATION

Given that Nema has been unable to monitor every construction, he said, the encroachment on rivers happens.

He, however, added that now as Nema works towards meeting a timeline by the Nairobi Regeneration Programme — an initiative of President Kenyatta that is co-chaired by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala — there will be strict checks on compliance.

“Now we have the resources and the capacity to do these demolitions. And we have been planning for them and now we are prepared and we are doing it,” said the Nema boss.

14-DAY ULTIMATUM

“By the end of this exercise, we are going to leave no structure on the riparian.”

More pain is on the way for illegal property owners in the city as the Nairobi County administration is expected to pull down more structures from Saturday when a 14-day ultimatum issued by Governor Sonko to those who had constructed unlawful structures will expire.

County officials yesterday equally did not reveal the exact buildings targeted.


Tenants watch in horror as bulldozers pull down mall

By WANJOHI GITHAE
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Tenants at South End Mall located at the junction of Mbagathi and Lang’ata roads in Nairobi were the biggest losers as the government continued with its crackdown on buildings put up on riparian land.

National Youth Service excavators descended on the mall at 3am and under the watchful eye of the police, started demolition at 5am. Potential looters were kept at bay by the officers.

The Annex building, which was yet to be occupied, was the first one to be brought down.

NO WARNING

Ngong River runs between the two buildings and the owners have constructed a car park on top of it.

NYS officers at the site said the main building, which had tenants, will be demolished in the coming days. “We are not leaving until both buildings come down,” said an NYS officer who declined to identify himself.

The window of opportunity allowed tenants to evacuate their business premises, with many complaining they had no prior warning.

Salons, clinics, pharmacies, a bar and restaurant, barbershops, jewellery shop, M-Pesa outlets are some of the businesses which had rented space in the mall.

SH1 BILLION

The two buildings are owned by former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti who together with his brother DanSteve Ragira and their lawyer Nyaboga Mariari narrated to journalists how the government had ignored a court order. “All construction plans were approved by various government bodies. Building started in 2008 and we have sank over Sh1 billion here. We had court orders since July 2016. We just don’t understand,” said Mr Ragira.

Mr Manoti said he had acquired the plots measuring almost two acres “way back and it was a clean deal approved by the government”.

Mr Faisal Mohamed, a jewellery shop owner, had just started his second year at the five-storey building and had established clients who flocked to his shop.

“We had been reading on social media, but the landlord assured us all was well. He said he had court orders. The government should advertise all condemned buildings, so that tenants can move out,” he said.

RELEVANT PAPERS

Mr Mohammed Hassan, who owned a forex bureau, said: “I have been here for six months and I had presented all relevant documents, even those from the landlord about the building, to the CBK, which were approved. We don’t understand how the government is working,” he said.

One of the biggest losers was the owner of Charlie’s Bistro, a hotel-cum-night club. A staff member said it made sales of about Sh1.3 million every weekend. The club had employed 200 staff.

Dr Walter Konya, who had a clinic, said: “We got all the licences even from Nema and City Hall. These are all government bodies. Didn’t they know this is a condemned building?”