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September 19, 2018

Youths risk lives as they fight for scrap metal from rubble

A manferrying scrape metals from the remains found  at the Shell Petrol station Kileleshwa that was demolished a few days ago on 10th August, 2018./victor imboto
A manferrying scrape metals from the remains found at the Shell Petrol station Kileleshwa that was demolished a few days ago on 10th August, 2018./victor imboto

The remains of the demolished structures of Shell petrol station in Kileleshwa and South End Mall on Langata Road have become sites of hide and seek games between security personnel and marauding youth as they scavenge for scrap metals.

Despite the buildings hanging dangerously after the demolition squad led by National Environment Management Authority (Nema) left the sites, youths have been on a mission to get anything that can be quickly turned into cash.

A spot check by the Star yesterday revealed how far the young men are willing to go in what they say is “a bid to get a livelihood.”

The young men seem oblivious of the danger they expose themselves to as they pull the hanging steel and other materials that can be sold.

The young men could be seen pleading with the guards on standby to allow them scavenge for the pieces of scrap metals, pipes, and steel while officers were on another side. The youth are mostly from the sprawling Kibra slums.

Haron Morang'a, who said he was a nephew to the owner of the mall and that he is part of the management said authorities need to flattened the building to reduce the risk it posses to people.

“They told us they would come to finish the demolition on Wednesday. We waited for them to no avail,” he said.

The giant mall was partially demolished on August 9. Some of its parts are hanging dangerously.

The sh 2 billion building was pulled down by the national environment watchdog to reclaim grabbed wetlands in the capital Nairobi.

The building is owned by former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti and stands atop Mutuini-Ngong River.

It has been blamed for obstructing the river leading to perennial flooding and destruction of property in Nairobi West, South C and Lang'ata.

“We are not interested in the scrap metals and wires left behind, we simply want them to complete demolishing the building,” said Morang'a yesterday.

He said the incomplete demolition is a painful and constant reminder of the losses they had to incur.

"We have however deployed police men here because these young men are risking their lives seeing as how the building is currently unstable," he said.

"We don't want anyone to die on our watch."

The Star witnessed how some of the youth were putting their life in danger trying to pull the metals and wires from the cracked walls of the demolished mall.

"We just want to make some money," said one of the youth who identified himself as Clinton.

"We sell one meter for Sh. 20. I don't understand why they won't let us just take the scrap," he added.

When the Star inquired on whether he was afraid of the threat posed by the unstable building he said, "No. We just want to make some money."

Another young man who identified as Max told the Star, "Some of us camped here overnight so that we could get some scrap metal to sell."

At Kileleshwa shell petrol station, men were digging the rubles to get steels and other scrap materials.

The guards said they are under firm instructions not to allow the marauding youth loot the steel and iron sheets of the demolished Java restaurant whose parts are still standing.

“We watch over the Java building in two shifts, night and day. That is how serious this is,” he said, adding that they only allow the street boys to take pipes, metal pieces and steel from the debris.

The guard claimed the owners are having a plan of reconstructing the facility leaving about 60 feet from the flowing stream.

Other structures that have so far been demolished include Ukay mall and Dandora settlements. Occupants of Taj mall has also been notified to vacate by August 30 to allow demolition.

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