The demolition of Taj Mall, which was renamed Airgate Mall, began early on Saturday morning amid government efforts to reclaim restricted land.
The mall on Outer Ring Road is owned by Mr Rameshchandra Govino Gorasia, who had been given 14 days to tear it down as it encroached on the road reserve hindering its expansion.
During the exercise that began at about 6.30 am, police stood guard and blocked the public from the shopping complex.
Members of the public tried to carry materials away from the site but were blocked by the many officers manning the site.
The operation is being overseen by the Nairobi Regeneration Committee but neither government officials, including committee chair Moses Nyakiongora, nor the mall’s owners were on site.
Taj Mall owners defied orders to take it down, with property manager Mr Amos Mogire saying on September 2 that were still in operation.
The exercise will likely take long as only one machine from the National Youth Service is being used.
The mall is one of several structures that have been destroyed as the government seeks to reclaim road reserves and riparian land.
Its demolition follows that of Southend Mall along Lang’ata Road which has been siting on riparian land.
Southend Mall was demolished on August 9 as Ngong River ran between it and an annex building which had not yet been occupied. The owners of the building had constructed a car park above the river.
The two buildings were owned by former Bobasi MP Stephen Manoti. Mr Manoti, his brother DanSteve Ragira and their lawyer Nyaboga Mariari accused the government of ignoring a court order on the demolition and said its construction followed a “clean deal by the government”.
The government said the owners of the structures that will be pulled down will bear the costs.