The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has over the past two-day instigated aggressive moves to protect riparian reserves by demolishing structures found to have contravened the laws protecting such fragile areas. The gains, to the good of the public has come at a massive loss to the owners of the demolished buildings in a painful balancing act.
The demolitons, which began on Tuesday morning with the demolition of a Java House structure and a Shell petrol station in Kileleshwa among other structures said to be on riparian land continued on Wednesday with the destructive sounds of heavy machinery ploughing through the walls of South End Mall along Lang’ata road.
The Ksh. 1 billion building which, has been the subject of controversy was completed in 2016. There have been claims that the mall was the reason for the areas flooding during the rainy season. The owner, a former MP, later secured court orders to stop the demolition.
Under the Nairobi regeneration project which has backing from the President, NEMA is seeking to reclaim riparian land for the over 25 river basins that form the Nairobi Rivers Ecosystem Project and to remove waste from the rivers. The project seeks to rehabilitate Nairobi River and its network of tributaries by identifying and sustainably addressing sources of river pollution.
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Over 4,000 buildings in the city are set for demolition for majorly inadequate quality standard reasons which have led to collapse and loss of lives in recent months. The current demolition are spearheaded by the multi-agency Nairobi River regeneration task force appointed by President Kenyatta last December.
The Kenyan public, more so on social media, has published lists of selected buildings they believe to be on land that is public and called out for their demolition as part of the ongoing exercise.