Westgate Mall, Nakumatt Ukay targeted for demolition

Westgate Mall [Photo: Edward Kiplimo]

The bulldozer will not be kept in the garage. Not yet. It is expected to bring down six more iconic buildings as the exercise to reclaim wetlands and riparian zones in Nairobi continues.

Around 4,000 structures are set to go down. A building housing Java in Kileleshwa and the multi-million shilling Southend Mall along Lang’ata Road have been reduced to rubble. This is proof that the Nairobi River Regeneration Task Force means business.

It has been established that buildings earmarked for complete or partial demolition include Westgate mall and Nakumatt Ukay - both in Westlands - Oshwal Centre in Parklands, Hashi Energy building on a road reserve at Maziwa along Jogoo Road, an apartment in Kileleshwa near Java that was brought down and another building in Kileleshwa belonging to a former governor.

“I am aware these six buildings are earmarked to go down. Reports have it that more are on the line, but I have not yet confirmed which ones,” a member of the task force hinted to The Nairobian.

Nakumatt Ukay was demolished early today, Friday the 10th [Photo: Courtesy]

Nairobi City County Environment Chief Officer David Makori said the demolition exercise will continue for the next three months. But was tight-lipped on big building to be levelled, saying the list remains a secret with the commanding team.

“That is confidential, but I can assure you that every property on wetland or riparian zone will definitely go down. We started upstream going downwards. Should we make public our next targets, they will rush to court to restrain us,” Makori said.

The structures targeted for demolition have been blamed for destructive floods in the city and some owners have sought court injunctions to stop the demolitions.

“It is not an abrupt exercise as owners purport. Way back in 2009 during reclamation of riparian lands, the coalition government stated it would bring down Oshwal Centre, Nakumatt Ukay and Westgate mall. The tempo is still there,” an official in the task force said.

The task force, with blessings from State House is comprised of officials from City Hall, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) and the Ministry of Environment, including tens of police officers and about 80 county askaris.

The Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources okayed the reclamation programme.

However, owners claim they followed due diligence before putting them up. Southend Mall owner, former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti, claimed he got clearance from all relevant authorities, including Nairobi City County that in 2016 ordered him to pull it down, but he moved to court.

A multi-level process is followed in erection of such structures, starting with title deed processing at the Lands ministry, architectural design reviews and site visits, assessment and approval by Nema and other authorities in respect to intended property’s location, constant inspection and final approval of the complete building for issuance of certificate of occupation.

So, how were procedures circumvented? Who is to blame? These questions remain unanswered as officials pass the buck.