A Java House coffee outlet was brought down in Kileleshwa on Monday morning as the national environment watchdog demolished structures on riparian land in Nairobi.
A Shell petrol station and a Safe Dose pharmacy were also closed in the demolitions as the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) set out to reclaim illegally occupied wetlands in the city county.
Magnate Ventures billboards and signage were also brought down.
The businesses were operating in a building erected less than 30 metres from the banks of Nairobi River.
The demolitions caught workers at the three business premises unawares, sparking fear and confusion.
They stopped business and started salvaging property including cookery, drinks, furniture, microwaves, ovens among others as the bulldozer tore down their building.
In a tweet, Java House on Monday said the Kileleshwa outlet would remain closed, without giving details.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, our Java Kileleshwa branch will remain closed until further notice. You can still enjoy your daily Java at neighbouring branches on Lenana Road and Hurlingham,” it said.
Nema said it would issue a statement on the demolitions later but an official who was supervising the exercise told reporters that they were out to take back illegally occupied wetlands in the capital.
The official claimed Nema issued a notice to Java, Shell and other businesses operating from the targeted land to vacate three months ago but it was ignored. The final notice, he alleged, was issued last week but was also not heeded.
The management of Java, Shell and other affected businesses are yet to issue statements on the same.
But workers at the site told the Nation that Nema neither gave official eviction orders nor communication about the demolition.
According to Mr Zachary Shariff and Dr Abdi Noor Shariff of Safe Dose pharmacy, property worth millions of shillings was destroyed in the demolitions.
The Shariffs also complained that unlike Java and Shell, whose property was being removed before the building was demolished, they did not get a chance to salvage anything.
Workers at the petrol station, which was marked with an ‘X’ before the demolition, also removed pumps and equipment, as they readied to vacate the premises. They first drained the underground tanks before removing the pumps.
Kivuti Karingi, a lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi, told the Nation that he was happy about the demolitions.
The physical planning and environment consultant said the demolitions should serve as an example to other developers who are building next to rivers.
The building was less than 30 meters from the river, and he doubts it had gone through environmental impact assessment.
Vivo Energy boss Joe Muganda declined to give a comment on the demolition of the Shell petrol station, which his company owns.