A private security officer stands guard as heavy machinery demolishes a bridge near the Oshwal Centre in Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya, this week. Picture : Baz Ratner/Reuters

For decades the Nairobi River has been besieged by the construction of buildings teetering perilously over its banks, bringing pollution, blockages and floods to the waterway that runs through Kenya’s capital.
The government is taking bulldozers to the problem, in a demolition campaign begun this month which has levelled shopping malls, a petrol station and a coffee shop in the city, angering businesspeople who insist that official permits prove their buildings are legal.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s spokesperson Kanze Dena said the permits had no legal force, citing widespread corruption.

“It’s very clear that riparian (riverbank) land is land that is not supposed to have any buildings on it,” Dena said.

“If that land was given away it was done in a way that was not legal, so that’s an area of corruption. The president has been very firm on his fight against graft.”

The effort has been cheered by many in the city, who have watched in dismay as apartment blocks, shopping centres and even swimming pools have popped up along the river’s banks. - Reuters