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October 16, 2018

[VIDEO] Government demolishes Ukay mall despite owners' court move

Affected parties watch the destruction of Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, as part of efforts to reclaim riparian land, August 10, 2018. /EZEKIEL AMING'A
Affected parties watch the destruction of Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, as part of efforts to reclaim riparian land, August 10, 2018. /EZEKIEL AMING'A

The multi-agency team handling Nairobi's regeneration started demolishing Ukay Centre in Westlands early on Friday morning, about a day after its owners went to court to prevent the destruction.

CBD Chief Julius Wanjau, who is in charge of the operation, said they were not served with the court order that Ukay owners claim to have obtained.

"Even if we are served, we will not stop pulling down the building as we are executing an executive order," he said.

NEMA bulldozers descended on the building from about 5.30 am. One of the operators of the machines was slightly injured when rubble fell on it.

Affected parties watch the destruction of Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, as part of efforts to reclaim riparian land, August 10, 2018. /EZEKIEL AMING'A

The damaged bulldozer on which rubble fell during the demolition of Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, August 10, 2018. /LEWIS NYAUNDI

The damaged bulldozer on which rubble fell during the demolition of Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, August 10, 2018. /EZEKIEL AMING'A

According to Ukay management, the building is not on a river but sits 10 metres from a canalised stream. The building manager, Veeral Shah, said they adhered to all requirements when putting it up.

Owners of the centre earlier asked the High Court to stop the destruction of the property worth Sh900 million.

On Thursday, Justice Wilfrida Okwany declined to issue orders stopping the exercise but certified the application against it as urgent and said it should be heard by the vacation judge next week.

Kental Enterprises Limited, through lawyer Greg Karungo, said Nairobi and state agencies approved the construction of the mall in 1984 on the basis of the building plans they submitted.

An affidavit sworn by one Bimal Shah states that the property is located on LR No 209/11307 and LR No 209/11308, all owned by the petitioner.

The applicant had wanted to argue the case before any action by the respondents.

The vacation judge ordered that parties be served and return for an inter-parties hearing on August 14.

Read: Ukay moves to court to stop impending demolition

Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, is torn down as part of an exercise to reclaim restricted areas, August 10, 2018. /EZEKIEL AMING'A

A bulldozer tears down Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, watches its destruction as part of efforts to reclaim riparian land, August 10, 2018. /EZEKIEL AMING'A

Demolitions are taking place across the city as part of efforts by the government to save riparian land. About 4,000 buildings are earmarked for demolition in an operation to clear illegal structures from river banks in Nairobi.

More on this: Over 4,000 buildings to go in operation to secure Nairobi River

The inter-agency team includes officials from Nema, Water Resources Authority, the Nairobi government, ministries of Environment and Public Works. It was formed to bring down structures that had encroached on wetland.

The operation expected to take two months kicked off in Kileleshwa on August 6. A Java coffee house within the Shell petrol station and perimeter walls of several residential apartments in the upmarket estate were pulled down.

In a statement on August 6, NEMA said: "This activity will continue for facilities where the notices issues have lapsed and a cost to the proponents of these structures."

It noted its mandate to ensure a "clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all".

On Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta told state agencies to prosecute officials found culpable of allocating riparian and public utility land to private developers. 

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko warned that all properties on road reserves, waterways or riparian land will be demolished.

The county boss said no one will be spared in the crackdown which will include his property in Buruburu.

Part of the destruction at Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, which will be torn down as part of an exercise to reclaim restricted areas, August 10, 2018. /COURTESY

Part of the destruction at Ukay Centre in Westlands, Nairobi county, which will be torn down as part of an exercise to reclaim restricted areas, August 10, 2018. /COURTESY

Details: Uhuru: Officers who approved illegal land allocations be charged

Also see: Sonko lists grabbed properties in City Hall reclamation plan

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