Kenya’s Environmental Agency demolish buildings on Riparian land in Nairobi

Kenya’s environmental agency The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has demolished several buildings in Nairobi which are regarded built on riparian land.

Kenyan laws define riparian land as being a minimum of 6 metres and up to a maximum of 30 metres on either side of a river bank from the highest water mark. This distance is based on the width of the river and the water volume at any given time.

Bulldozers from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure rolled towards the buildings, tearing them from “limb to toe” in an unprecedented move. From malls in Lang’ata to high-end coffee shops in Kileleswa to religious sanctuaries, including parts of the Oshwal Centre, went down in a pitiable rabble.

According to a task force appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to clean and reclaim Nairobi River, among other rivers dubbed the Nairobi Regeneration Team, more than 4,000 building will be pulled down before the operation comes to an end.

The demolitions began on Monday and is conducted by a multi-agency task force comprising of NEMA, Kenya Urban Road Authority (KURA) and Nairobi County government and their main aim is reclaiming the grabbed wetlands in Nairobi.

The government agencies said that it had issued a three month-notice and another seven-day notification to the tenants to vacate but they did not heed the orders. Tenants at the buildings located along Arboretum Drive, however, said they were not given ample time to move and faulted the demolition for being inhumane.

Among the properties targeted are:

TAJ Apartments: The National environmental watchdog says the boundary wall and part of the parking lot of the residential flats has encroached a river bank. NEMA recommended that the boundary wall and part of parking be removed.

Village market: The establishments at Village market, the waste water treatment plant of Greenhills Hotel and the Tribe Hotel are also targeted for demolitions. According to NEMA, the owners had been given a three-month notice, which expired on Sunday after the launch of the regeneration plan to restore Nairobi city

Westgate, Westlands: According to the report by NEMA, the Westgate car park has encroached the riparian reserve and needs to be removed.  Earlier, the agency lost appeal for the car park to be removed.

Nakumatt Ukay Mall: The Ukay Mall in Westlands has not be spared either, NEMA says the car park and the commercial building will also be demolished.

On Tuesday, Southend Mall along Lang’ata Road which authorities say it sat on Ngong River bed became the latest causality in the demolition exercise.

The rehabilitation of the Nairobi Rivers was outlined in Kenya’s Vision 2030 which was set 10 years ago in 2008.

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