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Southend Mall traders count losses as bulldozers strike

“I was shaking. I jumped out of the bed and rushed here to try salvage my property”/MOSES MUOKI

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – Just when business was picking, they say, fate has ruled against them.

It’s the argument tenants at Southend Mall hold following Wednesday’s move by the National Environment Management Unit (NEMA) to demolish what used to be their source of income.

Inside the mall, tens of businesses had set up among them beauty shops, a forex bureau and hospital among others.

Many were still in bed when they received what they have termed as “shocking phone calls.”

“The mall is being demolished…” were the only words Caroline Mathenge – owner of a Sh5 million spa – heard half asleep, before she dropped the call.

“I was shaking. I jumped out of the bed and rushed here to try and salvage my property.”

What came to mind, Mathenge says, “was the number of people drawing an income from the mall. We had just started doing well. And now this?”

She didn’t have kind words for NEMA, the government and anyone else who approved the demolition.

Abdul Razaq, a father of one, had accompanied his wife to the expansive but controversial mall whose ‘survival’ has been court orders often stopping previous efforts to bring it down, and ‘free’ what belongs to Nairobi River, which was diverted to pass under the building.

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Even though Razaq has lost business, he held different views to that of her wife, who was emotional and angry.

“It’s okay for the government to bring down the building but why now?” he queried. “Where were they when all these people invested their money?

He has a series of questions, whose response can only be given by the authorities.

Most tenants who spoke to Capital FM News want the same fate to apply to all other buildings built on riparian land. They even had a list of such buildings.

“If it’s not double standards, the government must bring down those buildings…” a tenant said.

The demolition came hours after Java restaurant and Shell petrol station was brought down in Kileleshwa.

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