NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 9 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed sustained efforts in the ongoing quest to reclaim riparian pieces of land under the leadership of an Intergovernmental Committee on the Regeneration of Nairobi.
Speaking on Thursday during the official opening of the Prism Towers along Third Ngong Avenue in Nairobi, the Head of State said officials who authorized the construction of properties on riparian land will be punished even as State agencies move to demolish the buildings.
“We will continue to demolish properties constructed on riparian lands, equally punish officials who made approvals for those properties,” he stated.
He said the move to reclaim riparian land on which buildings have been erected is aimed at discouraging corrupt acquisition of land in the ongoing purge against graft.
President Kenyatta noted that his administration was keen on winning the war against corruption adding that it is possible to do business in Kenya within the law.
“We are doing everything to discourage corruption. It is possible to do clean business in Kenya, this is what we want to encourage,” he observed.
Kenyatta’s statement came a day after the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) demolished the Southend Mall at the Lang’ata-Mbagathi Road roundabout, the Sh2 billion property sitting atop the Mutuini-Ngong River.
Following Wednesday’s demolition, proprietors of the Ukay Center in Westlands moved to court on Thursday seeking conservatory orders to stop an impending demolition.
The property sits on riparian land close to River Kinagare.
The property’s Managing Director Bimal Shah told the court all laws safeguarding riparian land had been observed with the recommended distance from the river adhered to.
The petitioners produced in court documents dating back to 2012 citing Justice David Majanja’s ruling on July 24 quashing an attempt to have the title for the property revoked on grounds that Ukay Centre had encroached on a riparian land.
According to the petitioners, they had been notified of an impending demolition on May 23 and July 6.
Prior to the demolition of Southend Mall on Wednesday, NEMA bulldozers flattened a Java coffee outlet and Shell filling station in Kileleshwa. An official report by the agency released late in June had shown the two businesses were within thirty metres of Nairobi River.
The June 26 report recommended the leveling of at least 10 properties among them Southend Mall and Ukay Center.
On April 15, the Intergovernmental Committee on the Regeneration of Nairobi co-chaired by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala undertook to undertake a wide-range of programmes among them beatification of the city and reclamation of wetlands.
The Sonko-Balala team was to, within a month, roll out a clean-up exercise of the Nairobi River and ensure an efficient garbage collection system is adopted in all the 85 electoral wards in the city.
The team was also mandated with the resolution of hectic traffic snarl-ups which cost the city in the excess of Sh 2 billion annually.
To resolve the traffic menace, the regeneration team recommended car-free days for Westlands and the Central Business District as well as the rollout of a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system which was to be preceded with the availability
“The launch of the BRT will be preceded by the availability of 39 buses and infrastructure improvement on Langata, Mombasa, Jogoo and Juja roads, as well as Waiyaki Way,” then State House Press Secretary Manoah Esipisu said.