Was Weston Hotel the secret target of Uhuru’s demolitions? [Opinion]

Questions raised on Nairobi demolitions

President Uhuru Kenyatta awed Kenyans after he said that the demolitions had “caused him many friends”.

However, a careful analysis of the exercise shows that it was not considered - it appears to be a lesson from the Moi school book of implementing a political vendetta.

Firstly, demolitions were first carried out, then police announced investigations to determine how the property owners had gotten approval.

Had such a process taken been followed, then Uhuru’s officials would have learnt that the new law on riparian land came into effect in 2012 – years after some of the multi-billion projects had been built.

The earlier law only blocked construction of buildings that were six metres from the river – and ten metres in some other areas depending on the size of the river.

Natural justice then demands that the law cannot be applied retrogressively.

Consider this analogy; an honest citizen gets approvals today and builds a house thirty metres away from Nairobi River. Two years from now, a new law is passed extending riparian land to 60 metres, it would be absurdly unfair to demolish such a building.

That is what happened with Ukay Centre and could happen to many other honest developers if the process continues in this kienyenji style.

Secondly, there is the obvious duplicity in deciding which buildings are flattened.

Ukay Centre, Oshwal Centres, South-End mall, and Java Kileleshwa have fallen courtesy of the much-celebrated SANY.

However, when Kenyans demanded the same operation to continue to Westgate, Kahama Hotel, Taj Mall, and Village Market which are owned by politically connected individuals, the operation was halted without a clear explanation.

If Uhuru has decided to lose friends regardless of their status, he should begin with his own mentor and family friend – former President Daniel arap Moi.

Moi continues to irregularly occupy Kabarnet Gardens that was the official government house he was allocated when he became Vice President in 1967.

How about Kabarak and Sacho High Schools, which forty years ago belonged to the state but are now part of Moi’s family empire.

Need I mention, the ex-President’s Kiptagich Factory that was also spared in the ongoing evictions in Mau Forest? Or Standard Group that sits on a road reserve?

If Uhuru was genuinely motivated by public interest, he would obviously have attempted to take back some of these assets.

Indeed, one of the buildings that now appears to be the next target of demolition is the Weston Hotel owned by none other than the Deputy President William Ruto.

Add that to the claims made by several Ruto allies that their man is being undermined by powerful people in the Presidency and you get the notion that the whole demolition campaign is targeting the DP.

Lastly, there is a false notion to the effect that Nairobi drainage problems are primarily caused by buildings sitting 30 metres from the river.

The truth is that the problems began with failure to manage garbage which then clogs the rivers and drainage tunnels.

Again, if Uhuru and his people are serious about solving the flooding menace, then they would have started by unclogging the drainage system.

The question every Kenyan must ask is this, why demolish 4000 buildings, destroy livelihoods for thousands, if the same rivers will flood and wreck menace during the next rainy season?

Tony Mukere is a journalist and a public commentator on social and political issues. The views expressed are independent and necessarily reflective of the position of Pulselive.co.ke

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulselive.co.ke