A bulldozer descended on parts of the expansive Oshwal Centre in Westlands on Saturday afternoon as the national environmental watchdog stepped up efforts to reclaim the occupied wetlands in Nairobi County.
The demolitions followed after Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko said three sections of the Oshwal centre will be spared as they do not sit on riparian land.
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“We are ready to preserve the temple, monuments and cultural centre because they are far from the river, but the rest of the structures like the hall are within the riparian distance and must be removed,” said Sonko.
The Governor maintained that the demolitions will be carried out without favor or prejudice as one of the mandates has been to clean up Nairobi River, prevent discharge of raw sewerage and industrial waste as well as remove structures on riparian land.
The building is one of the 4,000 earmarked by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to be pulled down.
The owners began the demolition on Saturday after hiring their own bulldozer.
The Oshwal centre is located opposite the Ukay Centre that was bulldozed on Friday.
Some tenants watched in disbelief as the Ukay Centre which houses Nakumatt Supermarket in Westlands was brought down claiming they didn’t have time to salvage their goods.
Nakumatt former managing director Atul Shah estimated his loss at Sh125 million. He said although some items had been salvaged, furniture, fittings and some other commodities were trapped in what remained of the building.
The proprietors sued NEMA for the ongoing demolitions but the court declined to grant their wishes.
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President Uhuru Kenyatta has backed the efforts to demolish buildings and ordered for arrest and prosecution of people who approved the construction of buildings on riparian land.
The Head of State has singled out those who endorsed construction of the buildings as law offenders, who will be pursued and prosecuted.
Uhuru noted on his twitter account: “We will continue to demolish properties constructed on riparian lands, equally punish officials who made approvals for those properties.”
The authorities have been considering using explosives to complete the demolition of Southend Mall in Nairobi as lack of fuel for two trucks and two bulldozers saw the demolition delayed. The mall along Lang’ata Road was bulldozed on Tuesday.