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More multi-billion-shilling properties to be demolished

By Geoffrey Mosoku | Published Thu, August 9th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 8th 2018 at 22:57 GMT +3
An excavator demolishes the Southend mall Building along Langata road in Nairobi on August 8, 2018. National Environmental Authority (NEMA) is currently demolishing buildings along the Nairobi River bed. [Gilbert Otieno/Starndard]

An upscale shopping mall, a luxury hotel and high-end apartments are among thousands of properties earmarked for demolition.

Yesterday, Southend Mall along Lang’ata Road was brought down on grounds that it was built on riparian land.

The authorities have warned that the crackdown could affect about 4,000 other buildings.

The properties, owned by powerful individuals, are earmarked for demolition as an operation by the Nairobi River Regeneration team led by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) entered day four. The demolitions are expected to last for about two months.

On Monday, the multi-agency team brought down Shell petrol station in Kileleshwa along with the popular Java restaurant, a tenant of the station. On Tuesday an apartment block was destroyed in Kileleshwa.

“There are approximately 4,000 buildings, structures and even facilities on riparian land in Nairobi and we are targeting them all,” the Nairobi River Regeneration task force’s operations manager, Julius Wanjau, said on Tuesday.

National Assembly

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The authorities explained Southend Mall sat on the Ngong River bed.

Separately, the National Assembly Environment committee has asked the management of Nakumatt Ukay in Westlands, the Tribe Hotel in Village Market, GemSuites in Riverside Drive and Taj apartments in Kileleshwa to appear before it today.

In a letter dated August 3, the developers have been invited for a meeting with the committee to “address the issues of riparian encroachment”.

Senior Deputy Clerk Jeremiah Ndombi explained that the committee was undertaking an inquiry into encroachment on riparian land in the country and had visited several areas in Mombasa and Nairobi that have been affected by the menace.

“This is, therefore, to invite your management to a meeting with the committee to deliberate on the said matters (encroachment) on Thursday 9th August, 2018 in the main chambers, County Hall, Parliament Buildings, at 10am,” reads the letter signed by Mr Ndombi.

Kareke Mbiuki, the chairman of the committee, said the five were the first batch of developers invited, saying the exercise would be extended to cover many others in Nairobi and Mombasa.

 

“We want to know who approved the constructions; was it Nema or the Water Resource Management Authority (Warma)? We want them to come with all the approvals and documents to show who and how they were allocated the land and subsequent approvals,” the MP added.

The management of Southend, which was brought down yesterday, had also been invited.

Mr Mbiuki insisted that the management of the mall, whose ownership is linked to former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti, must appear before the committee even if it had been demolished.

“We want to know if there is someone who slept on the job and allowed the construction. Even if the demolitions are going on, the information will help us to know why the demolitions were not carried out earlier,” he added.

14-day notice

In May, City Hall issued a 14-day notice to the former MP to demolish the building. The building was blamed for flooding in Nairobi West, South C and the entire Lang’ata area.

Nema and residents complained that the building was obstructing the flow of the Mutuini-Ngong River, causing flooding.

Then housing executive Christopher Khaemba said the former MP went to court after being served with the demolition notice and obtained an order restraining Nairobi County from interfering with the building. However, City Hall challenged the order.

NEMA yesterday remained tight-lipped on the identities of the other building targeted.

Hundreds of tenants were yesterday removing their belongings from the condemned properties.

Among them were tenants in high-end apartments and shopping malls erected on riparian land.

At Nakumatt Ukay, at least four businesses were moving their merchandise yesterday afternoon, with the owners citing a demolition notice issues on May 5, 2018.

And in Riverlyne Apartments across the road from the demolished Shell petrol station in Kileleshwa, four families were trying to salvage their household goods. Part of one wall has been pulled down.


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