Kenya: Demolition of Grand Manor Hotel Underway in Gigiri, Nairobi

Sany the excavator demolishes Grand Manor Hotel.
13 December 2018

Sany, the dreaded, tiny, green excavator that has been tearing down multi-billion-shilling properties on riparian land and road reserves in the capital Nairobi, has refused to take a Christmas break.

At the crack of dawn Thursday, it took its rather undiplomatic rubble venture to the leafy Gigiri suburb, the diplomatic capital of the city.

Target? The brand-new, multi-million-shilling Grand Manor Hotel owned by businessman Praful Kumar.

At 5.42am, the roaring machine stormed the hitherto tranquil compound and started tearing down the concrete structure that had been frowned upon by neighbours, embassies, the UN and City Hall.

The demolition comes a day after a Nairobi court issued orders allowing the Nairobi City County government to bring down the property.

The court on Tuesday ruled that Mr Kumar’s hotel, which was yet to open its doors to clients, is a security threat to the adjacent UN offices.

The property is situated opposite the US Embassy on one side, and the UN head offices on the other side.

On its left, is the High Commission of Botswana and on the right is the Embassy of Morocco stretching to its backyard.

Its proximity to the embassies was among the major reasons for the push to have it brought down.

Foreign missions have in the past written to City Hall and the Foreign Affairs ministry to protest its construction.

Gigiri Village Association had also filed a complaint in July 2015, lamenting that erecting a commercial structure in the area violated physical planning regulations for the low-density estate.

The residents argued that the area should be limited to low residential, one-family houses as it had no facilities to support the hotel.

The controversy surrounding the doomed hotel hit headlines in August after Mr Kumar was arrested by anti-corruption detectives in Kilifi on claims that that he intended to bribe Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko not to demolish the property.

Mr Kumar is said to have gone to meet Sonko with a Sh5-million offer to allow the hotels' expansion before detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission pounced on him.

The businessman was on August 24 charged with three counts of bribery before Senior Principal Magistrate Henry Nyakweba.

He denied the charges and is out on Sh1 million bond.

The dawn demolition appears to have caught the owner by surprise because he was yet to clear rooms of furniture and other property.

Workers and family members battled to save curtains, TV sets, beds, chairs, beddings, mattresses and safes from the rooms had been furnished.

Additional report by Agewa Magut.

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