In Summary
  • At the scene, heavy dust and debris filled the air with stranded businesspeople counting their losses as the green excavator hit and broke down one pillar after the other.
  • The tenants told the Nation that most of their stock was inside the mall as the majority were not aware of the demolition.
  • Mr Kavit Shah, who owns a shop inside the mall, said the Nema excavator caught them flatfooted since they thought they had until Tuesday next week to vacate.

An excavator has descended on Ukay Centre in Westlands as the national environment watchdog, Nema, steps up reclamation of occupied wetlands in the capital Nairobi.

The iconic mall, estimated to have cost Sh900 million, comes down a day after its owners failed to secure an injunction against its demolition from the High Court.

INJUNCTION

On Thursday, Kental Enterprises Limited sued the Nairobi County government, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the Water Resource and Management Authority, the National Youth Service and the attorney-general.

According to Managing Director Bimal Shah, Ukay Centre adhered to all laws relating to riparian reserves and the recommended distance from rivers.

The disputed property is located near River Kinagare, a tributary of Nairobi River that flooded heavily in 2016, wreaking havoc for tenants in the mall.

ukay mall

Tenants and passers by stare as the Nema excavator pulls down a part of Ukay mall. PHOTO | COURTESY | TWITTER

The matter was placed before the vacation judge for directions, which are yet to be issued.

At the scene, heavy dust and debris filled the air with stranded businesspeople counting their losses as the green excavator hit and broke down one pillar after another.

ukay mall

Tenants and stare as the Nema excavator pulls down a part of Ukay mall. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The tenants told the Nation that most of their stock was inside the mall as the majority were not aware of the demolition.

Mr Kavit Shah, who owns a shop inside the mall, said the Nema excavator caught them flatfooted since they thought they had until Tuesday next week to vacate.

"We were notified that we had until Tuesday to move out but changed this morning when excavators arrived here. We are waiting for them to demolish then see what we can salvage,” he said.

ukay mall

The operation was stopped for several minutes to allow technicians to repair the wrecking machine. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

There was a heavy police presence at the scene to deal with any resistance even though the demolition is going on smoothly.

But the demolition almost turned tragic after heavy debris from the building flew right over the excavator, nearly burying it.

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A part of Ukay mall in ruins after the demolition. PHOTO | LEOPOLD OBI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

After a few minutes of inactivity as the engine purred, the operator emerged covered in dust but was not injured.

The operation was stopped for several minutes to allow technicians to repair the wrecking machine.

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