Ukay Centre goes down as surveyors protest move

Directorate of Criminal Investigations opens a special desk at its offices to receive complaints by those whose buildings are on riparian land

The government’s resolve to demolish establishments on riparian land continued Friday on a day  surveyors questioned the legality of the process.

Ukay Centre in Westlands became the latest building to go down even as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) opened a special desk at its headquarters to receive complaints by those affected.

Police Spokesman Charles Owino asked those who have buildings earmarked for demolition to present all the approval documents granted to them by the relevant government agencies before they constructed the structures.

“All the proprietors of the buildings that have been earmarked for demolition are directed to present all the approval documents from the relevant government agencies before the commencement of the construction of the said building,” Owino said Friday.

He also said the information collected would assist Ethis and Anti-Corruption (EACC)in prosecuting those culpable. The desk will also handle cases of proprietors who have the opinion that their buildings are built on riparian land but have not been earmarked for verification purposes.

“Equally, proprietors of buildings that have not been marked for demolition and are of the opinion that their buildings or structures are built on the riparian land should present their approved documents and land titles to the desk for verifications,” Owino urged.

Meanwhile, members of the Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) said  the multiplicity of laws, others dating back to the colonial era, had caused confusion and created a loophole unscrupulous persons were exploiting to illegally acquire pieces of land on wetlands.

The surveyors called on the multi-agency team implementing the demolition order to rethink the move or face costly court cases that will cost the taxpayer millions of shillings.

“It is our advice that the multi-agency team think through this exercise to forestall possible legal battles over compensation based on the demolitions,” the surveyors cautioned.

The surveyors spoke even as excavators brought down Ukay Centre in Westlands area in Nairobi with numerous business- people counting losses amounting to millions of shillings.

The proprietors of the multi-billion-shillings establishment claimed they had been notified to vacate pending the demolition.“We were not given any notice, we learnt this through the media”, Feisal Shah, a manager with Ukay Properties said Friday. However, National Environment  Managemnt Authority (Nema) officials affirmed that they had issued a three-month notice but was ignored. They also claim that they have a court order that gave them permission to stay on the land.

However, some of the tenants had tried to salvage what they could for the few hours but more property especially furniture was destroyed. According to Nema, the spectacular establishment has been constructed on top of three tributaries of Nairobi River.

  This came a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that those found culpable of allocating riparian and public utility land to private developers be prosecuted.  Earlier, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji had directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to immediately commence investigations on officers involved in approval of building in riparian land.

ISK chairman Abraham Samoei said the country’s land management and administration system is wanting leading to investors losing heavily from the demolitions.  — Alvin Mwangi  and george kebaso

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