Traders at Westfield Hub Mall in Nairobi’s Kilimani area are counting losses after unknown people, who were accompanied by police officers, demolished their shops on Thursday morning.
The recently opened shopping complex along Likoni Road is still a new entity with some of its shops still unoccupied and while others are yet to be completed.
It housed several beauty shops and salons, jewellery stores, a supermarket, fashion and style lines, pharmacies, restaurants and a butchery.
The traders, who had hardly been at the mall for three months, said they were never informed regarding the planned demolitions which began at 9am.
“I do not understand what has just happened, investment has gone down the drain. We do not know who ordered these demolitions, we are waiting for the landlord to shed more light on this matter,” Mr Edward Mokua, a clothes dealer, told Nation.Africa.
A group of people, accompanied by law enforcement officers, gave shop owners 30 minutes to remove their wares from their shops.
Those who did not obey the order were shoved aside as hired goons cleared their stores. Damaged doors, broken neon signs, destroyed power cables, a fallen perimeter fence, scattered iron sheets and broken pieces of glasses described the chaos at the complex.
The mall’s metallic fence had been replaced by rusty iron sheets by Thursday evening. Several motorcycles were parked at the entrance of the complex with business owners saying boda boda riders had been hired to man the property and ensure the demolition and evacuation went on smoothly.
Most shops’ had their glass doors shattered. A pharmacy at the entrance was ransacked. A clothes store and a laundry shop were empty.
“I invested all my savings in this business, it had barely started earning any profit,” said a trader.
Not far from his store were three people who worked at a barber shop. One of them said the police ordered them to leave in 30 minutes.
“We do not know who the people were, they had police protection. They told us failure to comply by their order would lead to losses and damages,” she told the Nation.Africa.
While admitting that the mall’s location was contested, Kilimani Project Foundation criticised the demolition.
“Small business owners should be protected from such losses by readily availing information on processes and status of buildings. As a foundation, we stand by the rule of law,” Kilimani Project Foundation Executive Director Wanjiru Kanyiha, said.