(Xinhua) -- Kenya’s leading property
developers are staring at an uncertain future as the
government intensifies implementation of a regeneration
plan for the capital of Nairobi that has resorted to
demolition of structures on riparian land and other
sensitive biodiversity hotspots.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in December
last year launched a Nairobi city regeneration master
plan and a team of technocrats to oversee its
implementation in order to restore green credentials of
East Africa’s largest metropolis.
The Kenyan leader tasked Nairobi
city’s regeneration team to come up with innovative ways
to tackle pollution, traffic snarl ups, inadequate
housing and crime.
Kenyatta ordered the team of
technocrats, industry leaders and elected
representatives to give priority to sustainable waste
management, clean up of Nairobi’s main water bodies and
affordable housing as a means to enhance the city’s
The implementation of Nairobi
regeneration plan that has gone overdrive has been
accompanied by demolition of residential and business
premises sitting on riparian land.
Kenya’s environmental watchdog on Aug.
6 oversaw demolition of a petrol station and a building
housing—Java coffee house in Nairobi’s up market
Kileleshwa suburb because of encroaching on a riparian
Senior officials at the National
Environment Management Authority (NEMA) disclosed that
about 4,000 buildings located near river banks have been
earmarked for demolition that will be carried out in the
next two months.
Geoffrey Wahungu, the director general
of NEMA, said an inter-agency team will carry out
demolition of structures that had encroached on riparian
“There are so many buildings that have
been constructed next to a river bank and we have given
notice to unscrupulous developers who continue to flout
basic environmental rules,” said Wahungu.
He regretted that governance lapses
and weak policing were to blame for mushrooming
settlements along riparian zones in Nairobi and its
adjacent satellite towns.
Julius Wanjau, the head of Nairobi
Central Business District Association (NCBDA), said
unscrupulous developers have to brace for astronomical
losses or jail terms for encroaching on protected areas.
“We are not relenting on our efforts
to restore Nairobi’s green status by clearing structures
built over wetlands and riparian land. Developers who
break the law will not only incur losses but risks
protracted battle with the courts,” Wanjau told
He said demolition of residential and
business premises located near river banks and other
water sources will extend to the densely populated
suburbs located on the eastern fringes of Nairobi.
Wanjau revealed that 600 pollution
points have been identified along Nairobi River hence
triggering an urgency to clear structures along its
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nairobi
county leaders have endorsed the operation to clean up
the city through demolition of structures built on road
reserves and near water bodies.
So far, dozens of police officers have
been deployed to provide security during the demolition
exercise that is expected to hurt the revenue base of
Reports from local media indicated
that 8 million U.S. dollars has been set aside to
support activities that will enhance Nairobi’s
The revelation that up market shopping
malls that sit on wetlands are slated for demolition has
sent shock waves to private developers who have promised
to halt the process through court injunction.
However, the identification and
mapping of illegal structures to pave way for their
demolition and reclaim Nairobi’s green stewardship will
continue despite attempts by developers to rush to the
courts and put brakes on the exercise.
Kenyan lawmakers during their recent
tour of major water sources in Nairobi sounded alarm
over massive encroachment of these vital ecosystems.
Kareke Mbiuki, the chairman of
Parliamentary Committee on environment and natural
resources said that punitive action will be taken
against private developers who put up apartment blocks
in water catchment zones.
Experts said enforcement of
regulations to restore Nairobi’s biodiversity hotpots
should not be sacrificed at the altar of short-term
John Musingi, a Nairobi-based
environmentalist supported the ongoing demolition of
structures along river banks and wetlands terming them a
wake-up call for private developers to adhere to laid