Oshwal Centre welcomes ongoing demolitions targeting its property

The Oshwal Religion Centre in Westlands, Nairobi earmarked for demolition for being illegally constructed. [Jonah Onyango/Standard]
Nairobi’s Oshwal centre has welcomed the ongoing demolitions that target part of its property that sits on riparian land.

Vice Chairman of the Oshwal centre, Jinit Shah on Sunday said that they had been notified by the authorities on the required modifications and would embark on the same immediately.

Speaking on behalf of the Shree Visa Oshwal community, the vice chair however observed that all proper procedures had been sought and followed when putting up the iconic temple and its surrounding structures.

“Members must however understand that new policies are issued by the government to which as law abiding citizens must at all times comply with and in that accord some degree of demolition has been done," stated Shah.

He also noted that the management of the Centre through current office bearers, managing committee, Trustees and Friends of the Community was working with the multi-agency task force in charge of the demolition exercise to reach an amicable solution with regards to the river going through the property.

This comes even as the centre hired a private bulldozer on Saturday to demolish a section of its premises sitting on riparian land. The bulldozer arrived at the centre shortly after 5pm and was joined by excavators from the National Youth Service that have been busy the whole week demolishing property worth billions of shillings.

Oshwal Centre is synonymous for its exquisite infrastructure that has also gained favour from the city residents who categorise it as a land mark. It is also a place where a group that follows the Jainism religion and traces its roots to India [Oshwals] meet for religious, cultural and social activities.

Meanwhile, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko maintained that the demolitions would continue in a humane manner. The City boss affirmed that he was keen on preserving the Temple at Visa Oshwal, monuments and cultural centre based on their distance from the river.

“However the rest of the structures like the hall that are within the riparian land must be removed,” he added.

Sonko was quick to note that following a directive from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), only parts sitting on riparian land would be destroyed.

The exercise is expected to continue today and is spearheaded by the Nairobi Regeneration taskforce which is carrying out a Presidential directive.

The taskforce is now considering using explosives on some of the apartments targeted today in lower Kabete to bring them down.

Since Monday last week, buildings worth multi-millions and sitting on riparian land have been brought down by the regeneration taskforce. They include Java and Shell petrol station Kileleshwa, the controversial Southend mall at the junction of mbagatahi way and Langata road, Nakumatt Ukay and now the Oshwal centre.

Approximately 4,000 buildings, structures and facilities across the city and sitting on riparian land are targeted in the exercise expected to continue for the next two months.

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