By Empraim Njega
There can never be justification for a wrong method to right a wrong. Everyone knows about the deeply entrenched culture of land grabbing including lack of concern for the environment and public amenities space by the so called private developers. This is something that has been going on since independence. Those spearheading the demolitions are the top beneficiaries of land grabbing and related injustices.
If you want to right the wrong, you need a very elaborate plan. First you must come up with a criteria for identifying the buildings and structures which are constructed on grabbed public land such as riparian areas and land once set aside for other purposes. Past reports on land grabbing are a good starting point e.g. Ndung’u land report.
Once you have come up with the criteria you then generate a list of the buildings which should be earmarked for recovery action.
Next you need to establish a clear legal path for such recovery. You need to list each structure and the laws it has flouted and get court orders to take action. A special emergency court can even be established for the purpose.
Those who can willingly accept to surrender such properties without a court case can be allowed to negotiate the terms including how to compensate the state on the rent they have earned from these illegal structures over the years.
Lastly, the course of action should be one that leads to the least economic disruption. If the buildings are sound and have no environmental issues the Asset Recovery Agency should take ownership of these buildings and start running them on behalf of government or otherwise dispose them off by way of sale.
Buildings to be demolished should be published and publicised to allow tenants to vacate in an orderly manner and allow owners to demolish them at their own cost and possibly salvage any materials that can be reused elsewhere. The State should have a way of recovering the demolition costs from the owners and other illegally generated revenues to be applied to the regeneration efforts.
Haphazard and illegal demolitions will be very costly to the country. They will scare away investors. They will also lead to hefty compensation claims. Furthermore, the impact on the economy will be dire as chaotic demolitions will disrupt businesses.