Kenya: Preaching Water, Drinking Wine - County Buildings Cry Out for Coat of Paint

19 October 2020

The Nairobi County Government has on many occasions issued orders for property owners within the Central Business District to repaint their premises or risk prosecution.

Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) also joined the bandwagon in July, giving owners of buildings in the capital 60 days to repaint their buildings or risk prosecution for non-compliance.

NMS Director-General Mohammed Badi said the owners will be required to use colours that were originally approved for the building plans by the Nairobi County Government with any changes having to be approved by NMS.

Maj-Gen Badi said that those who fail to comply with the directive shall be liable to prosecution under the relevant sections of the Public Health Act particularly Cap 242 Section 118(b) on keeping buildings clean.

The directive by the director-general was just a continuation of similar orders by the county for building owners to repaint their premises.

In April 2015, Governor Evans Kidero ordered that repainting of buildings in the city be done but there was no compliance.

In 2019 alone, Governor Mike Sonko issued three separate repaint orders in January, May and July but few property owners complied.

Nonetheless, the county government appears to be preaching water but drinking wine: County government-owned properties are crying out for paint, having gone for years without seeing a coat of paint, some since they were constructed.

Drop of paint

Interestingly, City Hall - the county's seat of power - has not seen a drop of paint for quite a while with the county's cash office evidently reeling from neglect.

The same can be said of the inoculation centre, rates office and certain sections of the office of the governor crying out for a coat of paint.

The situation is worse in the county's residential estates where flats have not been repainted for years even though the county government kept on spending money in advertisements warning other property owners to rise to the occasion.

Huruma flats and Kariobangi South flats, which are county estates, are in dire need of painting compared to most buildings within the CBD.

But could county officials also face arrest over the malaise with Nairobi MCAs preparing a bill to make it mandatory for building owners in the city centre to repaint their premises every three years?

Earlier in the month, the MCAs passed a motion giving authority to NMS and Nairobi County Government to move with speed and enforce repaint orders in the city centre.

The ward representatives decried the failure by building owners in the city centre to comply with the public notices by both NMS and City Hall to repaint their buildings.

In a motion by Kilimani MCA Moses Ogeto, the county legislators now want the two offices to enforce provisions of section 118(b) of Public Health Act Cap 242 to arrest and hand over for prosecution non-compliant owners.

The Public Health Cap 242 and County By-laws require property owners within the city to repaint their buildings every two years.

The MCAs pointed out that despite City Hall and NMS separately issuing public notices to owners of buildings to repaint them, the property owners have ignored the notices.

Beautification

"Realising that the county has a responsibility to make laws and policies in people's interest, this Assembly resolves that the County Executive and NMS move with speed to enforce the aforementioned on repainting of buildings in the county," said Mr Ogeto.

"I know a bill is coming to that effect which is going to make it mandatory that if you own a building in Nairobi, after every 36 months, it must be repainted so that at least the face of the City of Nairobi can be maintained," said Minority Leader Michael Ogada.

Nominated MCA Mbugua Kabiro blamed the assembly for failing to create laws to replace by-laws which became obsolete with the coming in of county governments in 2013.

Nominated MCA Millicent Jagero said repainting the premises is for beautification purposes to enhance the city's aesthetics in order to attract investors and create employment opportunities for painters.

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