Southend Mall finally brought down

part of the southEnd mall that was being demolished along Langata road on 8th.August.2018 which was build on a riparian land./EZEKIEL AMING'A
part of the southEnd mall that was being demolished along Langata road on 8th.August.2018 which was build on a riparian land./EZEKIEL AMING'A

It was a sight that attracted hundreds of Kenyans who watched in disbelief as a Sh1 billion building was reduced to rubble yesterday.

Pedestrians stopped and motorists parked their cars to watch as bulldozers tore apart Southend Mall, owned by former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti.

According to the multi-agency task force of the Nairobi River regeneration, the building was put up on riparian land.

The task force is reclaiming Nairobi River and its tributaries, which have been polluted with dumping and encroachment.

The crackdown aimed at clearing structures from river banks entered its third day yesterday. About 4,000 structures are targetted.

The demolition started at 5.30am yesterday. A contingent of police officers and county inspectorate officers guarded the site.

But tenants of the mall, who appeared to have been caught unawares, pleaded with the officers to be allowed to salvage their items from the building.

Chief operations officer Julius Wanjau gave them four hours to remove their properties.

And as the tenants, who were running multimillion-shilling businesses in the five-floor building, rushed to salvage their properties, the bulldozers moved to the adjacent three-storey building owned by the same landlord. It was torn apart and reduced to a shell.

Wanjau said the owner – Manoti – was served a three-month notice to bring down the building.

But some tenants said they were not informed about the impending demolition.

Some said the landlord told them not to worry as he had a court order.

"This is impunity. Nema should have pinned notices on the walls for us to know because the landlord has been assuring us he has a court injunction," tenant Mohamed Hussein said.


The building has been at the centre of public uproar since 2013, as it is built on top of Mutuini-Ngong River.

The construction of the buildings started in 2008 but was stopped a year later, following public protests. It resumed in 2013.

The mall was completed in late 2016 while the adjacent one, that was to house a supermarket and parking lot, was completed early this year.

According to building plans released by City Hall in 2014, the building was to house shops, offices and a 92-bed hotel. It was to have a swimming pool on the rooftop. It stood on plot LR No 209/2227.

But this plan seems to have been changed as the final building did not have a swimming pool or a hotel.

The twin buildings were constructed despite protests by environmentalists, residents and MCAs. Manoti constructed the buildings under his company’s name – Moriasa Trading Company Ltd.

It was said to be interfering with the natural flow of the water and was in 2015 blamed for the heavy flooding in South C, Nairobi West and Madaraka estates that almost killed pupils of Makini School.


Yesterday, the Star observed that effluent was being discharged from the building into the river.

The management has said the structures were approved by all the government agencies, including the National Environmental Management Authority, the Water Resources Management Authority and the county government.

Manoti’s lawyer Mariaria Nyaboga said besides the approval documents, his client also had a court order [a copy seen by the Star] barring the agencies from interfering with the building.

The ruling of the case, which is at the Environment and Land Court, was to be made on December 28.

At least seven out of every 20 buildings in the country are uninhabitable, despite there being mandatory quality approvals, the National Construction Authority has said.

A study by the NCA found 800 out of 5,000 buildings are unsafe for habitation. Of these 651 are extremely dangerous.

Speaking to the media yesterday, NCA acting executive director Maurice Akech said developers have been bypassing required approvals to set up substandard buildings while others are being put up on riparian land.

"Even when we give the non-compliant construction sites a suspension notice, they erase the NCA identifying mark of non-compliance and continue with operations," he said.

"We report to the agencies responsible for enforcement but as you know, the developers still continue until construction is complete."

Although he did not say exactly who was to blame for the development of questionable structures, Akech said before a building is set up, it has to go through approval from quality assurance.

"After approval of development plans is secured, the project needs to be registered by the NCA for purposes of construction," he said.

Akech said much as it is painful to watch developers and business owners lose property in the demolitions, it is paramount that moving forward developers adhere to construction requirements to avoid irreconcilable losses.

"When we now catch up with them and take action after cautioning them to stop, developers end up losing their entire investments," the official said.

The government has embarked on a ruthless crackdown on illegal structures in the city.

Southend Mall was marked for demolition more than two years ago for being on riparian land.

On Monday a Java Coffee House within a Shell petrol station and perimeter walls of several residential apartments in Kileleshwa were pulled down.

"Impunity in the construction industry will not be tolerated anymore," Public Works PS Paul Maringa said.

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