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September 24, 2018

Demolitions suspended while team flattens illegal buildings

What remains at the Ukay centre which was recently demolished by the Nairobi Regeneration programme team./EZEKIEL AMING'A
What remains at the Ukay centre which was recently demolished by the Nairobi Regeneration programme team./EZEKIEL AMING'A

No more buildings will be razed this week until the ones partially knocked down last week are flattened.

The multi-agency team bringing down the structures on riparian land also yesterday ruled out the use of explosives to demolish multi-storey buildings.

Last week, Julius Wanjau, who is in charge of the operation, said they were consulting the Mining ministry on use of explosives, especially for tall buildings, to save time. There were also concerns that partially demolished structures were posing danger to passersby and adjacent houses.

Yesterday, he said they will focus on flattening Ukay Centre, parts of Oshwal Centre and Southend Mall.

“We were advised that bombing the structures would interfere with nearby buildings. So we decided to take our time and demolish them,” Wanjau said.

The crackdown on buildings on riverbanks started on Monday last week. About 4,000 structures are targeted in an operation to reclaim the Nairobi River and its tributaries.

President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed a task force last year. Already, the DCI is investigating the officers who approved the buildings, following the President’s directive. Those found culpable will be prosecuted.

On Sunday, Uhuru said construction of structures on river banks “is impunity” and promised that the demolitions will continue.

“A time has come for us to fight impunity. No matter how powerful you are, which high office you hold, how much wealth you have, or how many people you know in high positions, it will not help you,” he said during a church service in Nairobi.

Flooding

Yesterday, bulldozers were still pulling down the Ukay Centre. It was built near Kinagare — a tributary of the Nairobi River. Its location has been blamed for frequent flooding in Westlands.

Wanjau said the work was demanding and they had to refill the huge underground space that was used as a godown.

Part of the nearby Oshwal Centre, which is built over the river, was knocked down on Friday.

Wanjau said they have given the management of the Hindu religious centre four days to pull down the part that stands on riparian land.

“They canalised the river and that is unacceptable. But they have requested for some time to pull it down. We measured and marked the place for them, so their work is just to demolish,” he said.

On Saturday, Governor Mike Sonko said the temple and all the monumental structures at the centre are not on a wetland and will not be destroyed.

Wanjau said they would move to the twin Southend Mall buildings along Langata Road. The buildings were partially pulled down on Wednesday and Thursday last week.The owners have said they were approved by state agencies.

In Kileleshwa, the owners of the apartments whose walls were brought down last week erected temporary walls. Wanjau said they would be demolished.

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