Java, Vivo cry foul in demolition row

demolish kileleshwa
A bulldozer demolishes a Shell petrol station in Kileleshwa, Nairobi for encroaching wetland on August 8, 2018. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG 

Coffee chain Java House and oil marketer Vivo Energy have hit out at State agencies involved in the demolition of their premises in Kileleshwa, maintaining that they got all regulatory approvals before setting up their businesses.

Vivo Energy, the managers of Shell-branded petrol stations and products in Kenya, said it had sought relevant approvals from all concerned government authorities and had complied with the law before constructing.

Java, which had sub-leased from Vivo, said it had also conducted due diligence and received necessary approvals before signing a tenancy agreement for its coffee outlet, which opened in 2015. Java said it is in talks with Vivo Energy on the matter.

The demolition also affected a pharmacy, Safe Dose.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said the move was meant to reclaim illegally occupied wetlands in the city. The businesses were said to be operating in a building erected near the banks of Nairobi River.


“As a law abiding company, when we construct service stations and other structures therein, we seek all the relevant approvals from all concerned government authorities and comply with all conditions set by the authorities before we construct,” said Vivo Energy in a statement.

The Nema said it would issue a statement on the demolitions from midday yesterday but had not sent out one by the time of going to press. A Nema official supervising the demolition in Kileleshwa told the Business Daily that they were out to reclaim illegally occupied wetlands in the capital.

The official claimed the Nema issued a notice to Java, Shell and other businesses operating from the targeted land to vacate three months ago but it was ignored. The final notice, he alleged, was issued last week but was also not heeded.

“We regret this unfortunate incident and are engaging the relevant government authorities to resolve the matter,” said Vivo.

The demolitions caught workers unawares, sparking confusion. They stopped business and started salvaging property including cookery, drinks, furniture, microwaves, ovens among others as the bulldozer tore down their building.

“Java House performed due diligence on the Kileleshwa site before signing the tenancy agreement with our landlord, Vivo Energy. We reviewed all the regulatory and statutory documentation and received all the relevant approvals before fitting out,” said Java House Group CEO Paul Smith.