Kenya’s social media platforms are awash with reactions over comments made by a popular politician condemning the recent demolition of buildings on riparian land, instead urging authorities to allow landlords to divert rivers.
Kiambu county governor Ferdinand Waititu was addressing a church gathering, where he criticized recent demolitions in the capital, Nairobi, carried out by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
“I have been raised in Nairobi, and I have been a deputy governor there. I see some things happening there, such as the demolitions that people support, but I don’t support that… If you have a house built close to a river, it should be your duty to ensure the river is diverted a little. But demolishing houses is not a solution. Honestly speaking. It is such a big loss,” Waititu said.
Multibillion-shilling structures have been reduced to rubbles over the past three weeks by NEMA, which is adamant action has to be taken to conserve the environment.
Kenyan laws define riparian land as being a minimum of 6 metres and up to a maximum of 30 metres on either side of a river bank from the highest water mark.
The country’s Constitution says riparian land is public land hence should not be allocated to anyone.
The demolitions have received support from President Uhuru Kenyatta, who even called for the prosecution of government officials who approved the construction of the buildings on riparian lands.
Waititu’s remarks on Sunday have gone viral on social media, sparking most users to condemn his stance.
Here is a sample of the reactions from Twitter;
Land grabbing has been too much. Demolitions should continue. The suggestion by Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu that rivers be diverted is encouraging impunity. Next they'll say we relocate the forests, etc.
That is why Kenya is in such a mess. Corruption & impunity must end.
— Wambui (@Waambui) August 13, 2018
Ferdinand Waititu says we move the river to accommodate a building. What will we do next: move the sun to stop heatwaves; block rainfall to prevent floods and change seasons to maintain uniform weather? Kenyan gods must be crazy. We better move them to the moon.
— Nelson Havi (@NelsonHavi) August 13, 2018
if its gets extremely hot, we turn off the sun instead of going to a shade. 😂😂😂😂
what a genius!!
— saaya maric (@Lordofunderdogs) August 13, 2018
Ferdinand Waititu "Instead of moving people out of mau forest,we can move the forest to mandera or kisumu.😂"
— Karinga Kioi (@karingakioi) August 13, 2018
Other social media users however supported Waititu’s idea, saying it was actually workable.
Ferdinand Waititu The idea sounds funny,but redirecting a river's course is very POSSIBLE.
— Rachael davids (@RachaelDavids) August 13, 2018
Give Ferdinand Waititu a break. Rivers have been diverted in so many places across the world. The guy is actually a visionary. I mean Dubai was a desert! 🌵 🐪
— Ahmed Mohamed (@Asmali77) August 13, 2018