What a week! On Monday morning, residents of Kileleshwa were woken up to a shocking discovery that their beloved Java House restaurant was being demolished. In a somewhat blindsided move, employees at the restaurant were seen trying to salvage whatever valuable property they could. Imagine how the hungry residents who had left home without breakfast felt seeing their beloved croissants being squashed by heavy machinery. Imagine the guy who had just sent a “Babe, we are still meeting for brunch at Java today right?” txt was feeling when he saw it was being demolished even after taking a 30 minute shower and using the most expensive cologne in his closet.

On Wednesday morning, the same fate has befallen Southend Mall which houses the popular Charlie’s Bistro restaurant and apartments at riverside. Another surprise happened Friday morning when they descended upon the building that hosts Nakumatt Ukay at 5.30AM and were relentless in their destruction.

From this, it can be assumed that NEMA will purposely target popular spots first which may get more media attention and public outcry.

Southend Mall Destroyed
Southend Mall Destroyed

As a Nairobian, you are now very cautious about where you are going to spend your leisure time let alone where you are going to house hunt. First questions when getting in to a restaurant are now changing from “Kuna kachumbari fresh ya avocado” to “Hii hoteli iko kwa riprarian?”

You are now paranoid about where you eat and where you live let alone where you set up your business. As a tenant, you have no business in knowing whether a structure was built on riparian land. You just assume that the various government agencies who approve the construction and issue certificates are doing their job.

4,000 structures are to be demolished and there is no released list. All that has been released is the areas where the buildings may or may not have been built. You are just in a constant guesswork game always on the lookout for a river nearby. The good thing is that when your date now suggests an expensive restaurant, you can use “Hapo ni kwa riparian” excuse.

Having lived in Nairobi for your whole life you probably know that the sad reality is that not all the 4,000 structures will be brought down. The truth is our agencies really do lack he capacity and resources to conduct such massive exercises without a compromise of sorts. Remember when alcoblow was introduced and the tools used to administer them would run out mid exercise prompting our police to enforce the superior tactic of guesswork or getting bribes from people who really didn’t want to go to jail?

I suspect that some Nairobi entrepreneur is now printing maps highlighting riparian lands in river road and these will sell out like the Obama inauguration DVD’s. I know I’d definitely buy one just to avoid the embarrassment of appearing on TV shouting “Aki sikujua hii hotel iko kwa river” and ending up in prison with my date in what was supposed to be a romantic experience.

Let us lookout for each other as Nairobians and come up with our own guesswork list of structures on riparian land.

Which building do you think is illegal in Nairobi?