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August 21, 2018

Where were you? Kenyans ask NEMA as South End Mall is torn down

South End Mall on Lang'ata Road in Nairobi, during a demolition exercise on August 8, 2018. /COURTESY
South End Mall on Lang'ata Road in Nairobi, during a demolition exercise on August 8, 2018. /COURTESY

Where was Nema as buildings on restricted parts of the city were being constructed to completion?

This is one of the questions Kenyans have asked following the long overdue demolition of South End Mall along Lang'ata Road.

It was reported on May 11, 2016 that then Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti had 14 days to demolish the Sh1 billion building on a river valley.

The operation finally started on Monday, by the Nairobi River regeneration multi-agency task force.

More on this: MP Manoti has 14 days to bring down building opposite T-Mall

Also read: NEMA demolishes ex-MP Manoti's South End mall on Langata road

The crackdown is stricter and has seen the destruction of many illegal structures in the city but Kenyans want answers from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the government on why the construction was not prevented in the first place.

The Environment Management and Coordination Act (EMCA) demands that any work be subjected to environmental impact assessment, a process approved by NENA beforehand.

Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua said third parties should not suffer needlessly.

"Where was NEMA when it was constructed to completion and occupied? We need accountability by public officers. The loss to innocent third parties occupying this building could have been avoided," she said on Twitter.

User Geoffrey Imbayi was also of the view that officers who approved the construction should also be held liable.

Mwaura Mwangi added: "All the NEMA and county officials who approved this must be sent to jail."

One Kamau wrote: "As the buildings are demolished, we should consider it evidence that some NEMA officials slept on the job and that the losses should be on them. Some people at NEMA should be in jail or pay for the loss."

Ben noted that South End Mall was approved by NEMA and Nairobi county and that "land rates and business licence are up to date".

He added: "NEMA wakes up and decides to demolish the Lang'ata building because it's on riparian land. The river decided to meander towards the mall and NEMA was following behind it."

Rarieda MP Otiende Omollo said it is painful to let people acquire riparian land, process building permits and secure tenants then wake up to a demolition order.

"Let the buildings fall, but all in the chain must pay the price," he said.

Kambarage pointed out, however, that the occupants were in the county when the building was being built on top of a river.

It has been affected by flooding, he also noted, adding those now suffering losses were fully aware of the risks.

"We must stop impunity, even of willing beneficiaries who turn victims."

The authority's roles include establishing and reviewing land use guidelines and examining land use patterns to determine their impact on the quality and quantity of natural resources.

Also read: Over 4,000 buildings to go in operation to secure Nairobi River

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