Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blow your nose and kiss goodbye to Sh2,000

City Council askaris arrest a man who was allegedly found sitting on a flower pot near Kencom bus terminus in Nairobi on Thursday. The council has published new by-laws, which ban spitting in the streets or blowing noses. Photos/SAMMY KIMATU

City Council askaris arrest a man who was allegedly found sitting on a flower pot near Kencom bus terminus in Nairobi on Thursday. The council has published new by-laws, which ban spitting in the streets or blowing noses. Photos/SAMMY KIMATU 

By KIBIWOTT KOROSS

It is now illegal to blow your nose in the city of Nairobi and you could go to jail for it. If they don’t get you for blowing your nose, they will get you for spitting on one of the city’s many rubbish heaps and rivers of sewage.

And if they don’t catch you on any of that, you will certainly find yourself behind bars for crossing the road while talking on the phone.

In a raft of new by-laws, the City Council has also criminalised making noise.

The by-laws are contained in a brochure issued on Thursday. Those found spitting will be jailed for three months or pay a fine of Sh2,000, or both.

The same sentence will be imposed on those arrested for blowing their noses without using a handkerchief or tissue.

Making noise

According to the City Inspectorate Department, making noise of any kind in the City will result in arrest.

Council spokesman Wilfred Marube said the new by-laws will guide residents who according to him were not aware that such rules exist.

“We have to make the city more habitable,” he said, adding: “Most people through poor ethics have made this place (Nairobi) look bad.”

He did not say whether proper planning of the city, cleaning up the garbage and sewage, managing traffic and clearing slums would not have been more sustainable solutions.

Motorists will not be charged parking fees on weekends and public holidays, with the exception of Saturday, when the charges will be levied up to 2pm.

Speaking while releasing the by-laws on Thursday, Mr Marube said most residents ignored city regulations and this has forced city fathers to impose stiff penalties.

Four major by-laws were announced which include parking, solid waste management, Fire Brigade and general nuisance. The latter was said to be the most violated.

“General nuisance is really affecting the operations of the City Council,” he said.

Hawkers and touts, who make noise for a living, thought the new rules are a nuisance.

“We get our daily bread here,” said 29- year-old Samuel Maina, a tout at Globe Cinema roundabout. “We are not making noise. The council must know that we are self-employed.”

Ms Anna Naliaka, a hawker in Ngara, said that the new laws would not help them in any way.

Building sheds

“They should think of building sheds for us. Maybe they (City Council) want to raise more money from fines. They want to finish our business.”

But Mr Tom Chenu, a banker said the laws would help curb matatu madness which, he called a major nuisance.

“If only they could be implemented,” he said but warned the new rules may just make City Hall workers more corrupt.

“The City Council askaris may make a killing out of this,” he said. “They will demand bribes. If one is caught spitting, he’ll pay an askari Sh200, which I think the askari will not refuse. That will be like an ATM to the askaris.”

Dancing, singing, and guiding or directing drivers into parking spaces is also illegal as is falsely shouting “Fire!”.

Scattering waste in the estate is also an offence, and home owners are expected to have a rubbish container with a lid.

The council is also proposing to sell your car if it is towed for failing to pay parking fees and you fail to pay towing charges and fines.