Residents protest plan to demolish Mombasa old houses

At least 1,000 residents of an estate in Mombasa on Wednesday threatened court action.

Thursday March 17 2016

Residents of Khadija estate in Kisauni led by Mombasa county politician Mr.Suleiman Shahbal protest at the county government's move to evict them from the estate and construct new houses on March 16, 2016. The Khadija residents demanded a halt to the plans saying they had not been fully involved claiming a hidden agenda by the county government to permanently evict them. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA |

Residents of Khadija estate in Kisauni, led by Mombasa County politician Suleiman Shahbal, on March 16, 2016 protest the county government's move to evict them from the estate and construct new houses. The residents demanded a halt to the plans, saying they had not been fully involved and claiming a hidden agenda by the county government to permanently evict them. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By REBECCA OKWANY
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At least 1,000 residents of an estate in Mombasa on Wednesday threatened court action to stop a plan by the county to bring down houses it says are dilapidated and replace them.

The Khadija residents demanded a halt to the plans saying they had not been fully involved claiming a hidden agenda by the county government to permanently evict them.

The residents held a demonstration outside their estate saying they have already been issued with eviction notices by the county without tangible relocation plans and the county had declined to collect rent for their current houses.

They also poked holes in the procedure followed by the county in awarding tenders to developers and termed suspicious the quick arrangements over the construction.

“We have been given a three months’ eviction notice and the county has refused to take rent from us. It is a decision which they made at the office level. Not that we are against development,” said Ms Mariam Faraj, a resident.

COUNTY PLOT TO 'STEAL'

Businessman and politician, Mr Suleiman Shahbal, who accompanied the protesters, described the planned construction as a plot to steal by the county in collaboration with private developers.

“If this is not done in the right manner, we will sue the county government in connection,” said Mr Shahbal. “Many of these estates sit on large sewage systems. No boreholes can be dug.”

Mr Juma Opiyo from Likoni Customs said the meetings the county claims to have had with the estate’s residents on the planned construction had been haphazard and hurried.

Jane Wanjiku, another resident said, “Let us have a consensus so that we agree if the plan is good,” she said.

But Land Executive Officer Anthony Njaramba denied the claims saying the county had been collecting rent from the tenants and no construction would start without individual agreement with the residents.

“I went to Khadija estate on March 12 for a public participation meeting and they refused to meet me.

Their chairman was in the planning meeting of these estates where have they not been involved and why only Khadija?” asked Mr Njaramba who accused Mr Shahbal of seeking political mileage from the issue.

On Tuesday, Mr Njaramba said the county plans to build 30,000 affordable houses to address the rising demand for housing.