Sh2b mall demolished to reclaim riparian land

Kinyuru Munuhe @kinyurumunuhe

Demolition of buildings constructed on riparian land continued yesterday amid reports that at least 651 high-end houses worth billions of shillings are targeted for destruction.

As the government’s excavators and bulldozers brought down the Sh2 billion South End Mall  at the junction of Lang’ata and Mbagathi road yesterday morning, reports indicated that Ukay, Taj Mall, T-Mall  and Westgage Malls, Temple along Limuru Road, office complexes along Riverside Drive in Westlands and business offices in Spring Valley, Nairobi, are among buildings that could be demolished.

Some 651 buildings will be demolished in the country in the coming days according to a government audit.

The National Construction Authority (NCA) report found that out of 5,000 buildings that went through the audit process, 800 were found to be unsafe.

However, out of the 800, about 150 were found to have partly complied with the NCA approval processes, and only needed some structural adjustments.

The National Assembly has waded into the matter with the Environment and Natural Resources committee inviting  the managements of Gem Suits, Taj Apartments, Tribe Hotel, Ukay Centre and South End Mall for a meeting today at Parliament Buildings.

An invitation letter to the entities by National Assembly Clerk Jeremiah Ndombi read in part: “The committee is undertaking an enquiry into encroachment of riparian across the country. The committee has decided to invite various entities to address the issue of riparian encroachment.”

The five storey multi-billion shilling South End Mall, owned by former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti, had been marked for demolition in 2015 was by the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema). He, however, obtained a court injunction to bar the same.

But yesterday, bulldozers from the Nairobi county government, Nema and Kenya Rural Urban Authority (Kura) descended on the building yesterday morning.

A tenant at the mall, Rashid Ahmed, who was caught unawares said: “Although some of us have lost valuables inside there, we are grateful they have allowed us to salvage our belongings. It is sad that the landlord never informed us of the eviction order.”

The building had not only diverted River Muituni waterway with its parking lot constructed on the riparian zone, but the encroachment was extended to the actual river.

The building was elevated to allow water to flow underneath posing a recipe for danger. A combined contingent of police officers were deployed to secure the area, deter looters and control traffic.

The county assembly last week directed City Hall’s planning and compliance department to look into safety at T-Mall.

Last year, Nairobi West MCA Maurice Gari lamented on the disastrous risk the investment poses.  Assembly Planning Committee visited the site and established that indeed it had visible cracks on its walls.

The demolitions to reclaim riparian land and road reserves is being spearheaded by the Nairobi Regeneration team appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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