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Dusit complex, one year on after the attack

By Anyango Atieno | January 16th 2020

A section of dusit D2 Hotel in Nairobi located along Riverside Drive. The Hotel is marked its first anniversary on January 15, 2020, over terror attack which took place in 2019. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

A year after a terror attack at 14 Riverside Complex, the upmarket premises has risen from the ruins and is now secure and better.

The rebuilt complex is now considered a symbol of resilience and triumph rather than a reminder of the tragedy that claimed lives and caused trauma to many.

Since January 15, 2019, when terrorists struck, days have turned into months and months to a year as the complex stirs back to life.

A stroll past the rebuilt and reopened complex, which houses the luxurious dusitD2 Hotel and other offices, feels as though the events of that day never happened.

Five attackers faced down a nation’s security agencies as they tried to kill as many people as possible in the glitzy complex. By the time the guns had fallen silent, 21 people lay dead, at least 30 more were wounded and scores scarred for life.

As proof of resilience, the 14 Riverside Complex has already sprung back into action with business owners and tenants returning to help to beautify the area.

The office buildings reopened on January 28, 2019, with security measures reinforced.

Upscale hotel

The Thai-owned upscale hotel reopened on August 1, 2019, after six months of renovation.

At the gate, a battalion of equipped security personnel greets you as you enter, complete with sniffer hounds.

There are at least two security checkpoints at the gates as visitors make their way into the complex.

The stroll around the complex revealed that there is at least one security officer at the entrance of every building.

“The place appears to be low key and quiet nowadays. Even one of the restaurants is not opened today (Saturday),” said one of the officers.

The complex exudes nothing, but calmness away from the bustles of the busy city. Security staff appeared to be more than civilians as there was minimal movement of people.

At the hotel’s restaurant, Soko, I and two others who accompanied me were the only customers. It was about 3:50pm, probably not considered lunch time, thus explaining the little activity.

Restaurant closed

We took another stroll, this time to the restaurant that was closed.

Secret Garden Restaurant, where on the day of the attack an explosion took place which later turned out to be the work of a suicide bomber, is fully operational only that it was closed on this particular day of our visit.

Most companies moved back to their offices as revealed by the security and new ones have come in. However, tech company Cellulant, which was the hardest hit after losing six of its employees in the attack, has since moved from the premises and resumed normal business operations in Westlands, Nairobi.

We had to leave after the security personnel became suspicious of why we asked a lot of questions.

Efforts to get a comment from the hotel or the property managers on the state of business, a year after the attack, did not bear fruit as did trying to get a response from some of the businesses housed at the complex.

However, for many dusitD2 is still the place to be.

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