Nema demolishes Sh2 billion city mall

South End Mall on Langata Road
A bulldozer brings down South End Mall on Langata Road on August 8, 2018. PHOTO | WANJOHI GITHAE | NMG 

South End Mall on Lang’ata Road has become the latest casualty of the ongoing campaign by the environment watchdog to reclaim grabbed wetlands in the capital. A bulldozer, on instructions of National Environment Management Authority (Nema) officials and under the guard of police, descended on the mall that stands atop Mutuini-Ngong River on Lang'ata Road on Wednesday morning.

The imposing building, owned by former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti, has been blamed for obstructing the river leading to perennial flooding and destruction of property in Nairobi West, South C and Lang'ata estates.

Mr Manoti claimed in 2015 that he had all the necessary approvals from City Hall and Nema, despite the two ordering for the demolition of the building.

And on Wednesday, his brother Dan Steve Ragila reiterated the claim.

"We had all approvals and licences, all given by the government agencies. We are not on the river at all," he told reporters at the site of the demolition.

"We even have a court order. We had no prior knowledge of this demolition."

Mr Manoti obtained a court order to stop the demolition. City Hall challenged the order in court in early 2017.

The matter has seen a sustained back and forth between authorities and the owners since construction commenced, with authorities maintaining that the building needs to be demolished because of the risks it poses to thousands of Nairobi residents.

The five-storey building, which Mr Ragila said cost Sh2 billion, is at the Mbagathi Way-Lang'ata Road junction and opposite T-Mall.

The mall was constructed despite opposition by environmentalists.

The operation to reclaim riparian land in Nairobi is being led by the Nairobi Regeneration team appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On Tuesday, Nema demolished several buildings built on riparian land in Nairobi with those targeted being residential houses built on Ring Road Kileleshwa next to the Shell petrol station that was demolished on Monday.