Monday, January 14, 2013

Eyesore that spells danger for drivers

PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH Posters of candidates in Baringo County cover road signs in Mogotio Town.

PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH Posters of candidates in Baringo County cover road signs in Mogotio Town.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By CARLOS MUREITHI [email protected]

Towns and rural areas are choking under layers of campaign posters as political parties and aspirants reach out to voters.

However, the disregard of by-laws of local authorities and even Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) guidelines are raising questions on enforcement of these laws.

Nairobi, for instance, is littered with campaign posters. From walls, trees, street lights, columns, beams, crash barriers, bollards and foot bridges, no structures have been spared.

And the A3 size posters are placed in a careless and haphazard manner. You will find one candidate’s poster placed over another candidate’s. You will find too, one wall plastered with dozens of posters bearing the face of a single candidate.

Old Nation roundabout, Landhies, Forest, Murang’a Road, Mombasa, and Jogoo roads, as well as the City Market and public toilet walls are all defaced. Campaign materials compete for space with those of traditional healers and strip clubs.

Bus termini such as the one in Githutrai, which doubles up as a market, are also subject to the same nuisance, and a similar scenario is evident on the tusks on Mombasa’s Moi Avenue.
Some road signs are covered with campaign posters.

In some neighbourhoods, posters have even defaced gates, doors and windows of residential houses.

As if this is not enough, graffiti artists have taken the campaign period as the perfect opportunity to practice their skills. Perhaps influenced by photojournalist Boniface Mwangi’s wall paintings and murals encouraging voters to get rid of “incompetent” and “corrupt” politicians, they have spray-painted portraits of politicians.

The most common is perhaps Jubilee Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta’s portrait that resembles the stylised stencil of American President Barack Obama, dubbed the “Hope poster” used during the 2008 American presidential campaign. It can be spotted on many bus stop seats on Kenyatta Avenue.

Writings of (Ferdinard) “Waititu for Governor” can be seen in flyovers and underpasses around the city roads and by-passes, especially in Eastlands.

Last March, City Hall served a notice urging Waititu to “remove the graffiti and restore the (affected) areas to their original look within 48 hours.” However, no action was taken against him, and the graffiti remains.

The Electoral Code of Conduct in the Elections Act stipulates that registered political parties commit themselves to distribute non-offensive posters, as well as to remove them.

Candidates are not allowed to put up such advertisements on private buildings.

Mr Hillary Wambugu, the director of the City Inspectorate at the Nairobi City Council told the Nation: “It is an offence to put up unauthorised posters because it goes against the Council bylaws.”

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