End of an ‘error’ as Uhuru takes on lords of graft
SEE ALSO :More illegal buildings to fall this weekBased on the reactions on social media, nothing could have demonstrated that there is hope to end impunity than the demolition of Ukay Centre at the heart of Westlands in Nairobi, yesterday. The mall which the Saturday Standard learnt was in the process of changing ownership has been one of Kenya’s biggest faces of impunity for standing on a river for a staggering 24 years despite numerous complaints and being a cause of flooding. Shocked, the property’s owners who had just hours before sought protection from the court said they will seek legal redress once again. “We were confident that our building is not going to be demolished despite having all the documents. The Government has infringed on a court orders barring them to demolish,” said Veerah Shah, the mall’s manager. In a country where the well-connected and rich have been known to get away with murder, the current crackdown affords a breath of fresh air as law enforcement agencies tighten their nooses with the full backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
SEE ALSO :Anxiety as agency reclaims road reservesNot even being a friend to the president could save former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero from being arrested and taken to court for his alleged past sins and spending a night away from the comfort of his plush home. Among the heroes of this new war against impunity are Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Hajji, Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti and lately the Nairobi Regeneration Committee. Hajji in particular has impressed with his onslaught against politicians and state officers who in the eyes of Kenyans are untouchable elites. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had initially been sidelined by the DCI and DPP but has lately been brought back to the fold. Transparency International Kenya Chief Executive Samuel Kimeu said the ongoing purge will only make a difference if it is sustained. “The fight against corruption will be seen in jail terms and recovery of assets,” he said.
SEE ALSO :Kimemia calls meet to address stand-off“When people realise you cannot engage in corruption and benefit from it then they will stop being corrupt because the law is the law and the institutions that are supposed to enforce it should be supported,” he said. By our count at least 33,622 structures had been brought down in Nairobi since March. Those that have suffered the biggest toll are hawkers, small scale traders and people living in informal settlements. In Mombasa the government two weeks ago forcefully reclaimed an 80 acre ocean front property in Kibarani and ordered it transformed into a recreational area. The reclamation came just a month after some 117 families were left homeless when their shanties were flattened to give way for the expansion of Coast General Hospital. In Nairobi, Governor Mike Sonko who sits in the Regeneration Committee has promised to keep up with the demolitions. “It no longer matters how well connected you are,” he said. President Kenyatta in a tweet late Thursday said those involved in approving the buildings would also be punished. “We are doing everything to discourage corruption. It is possible to do clean business in Kenya, this is what we want to encourage,” said the President. As if on cue, the DPP swiftly announced that an audit trail would be conducted to establish those responsible for the years-long mess. He said those found culpable for any wrongdoing will be arrested charged in court for various crimes. With such backing from the Commander-in-Chief, anxiety is visible among those who suspect that they will be affected by the ongoing attempt to correct systemic wrongs. The war against corruption and the ongoing evictions from the Mau Forest Complex have already split the Jubilee party into two with one faction saying they are being targeted. Meanwhile, owners of buildings targeted for demolition have been hit by panic. Some of the properties on the government’s radar include Tribe Hotel, Taj Apartments and Visa Oshwal. It is still unclear if Taj Mall believed to be the cause of the mess that is Nairobi’s Outering Road will also be brought down. Other buildings which the Saturday Standard understands are standing on questionable locations include Naivas Jogoo road which is part of the reason the design of Outering road was altered. Unlike in the past when landlords would be saved by convoluted legal battles, tenants in marked buildings are taking matters into their own hands. At Brookline Apartments in Kileleshwa, where monthly rents go for Sh120,000 residents are vacating before the bulldozer comes knocking, rushing to salvage whatever they can. Those set to be affected include the massive 110 units Avic Park whose wall and swimming pool are so close to the river. The Saturday Standard has also established that owners of affected buildings had been given a three-month notice to vacate. [email protected]