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Lobbies, residents protest as houses in Kibra demolished

Monday July 23 2018
kibera

Kibra residents watch as bulldozers demolish houses to pave way for a new road construction on in Kibera slums, Nairobi on July 23, 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OKINDA

Bulldozers flattened structures in Kibra Constituency on Monday to pave the way for the construction of a road, amid protests by lobbies and residents.

Five resource centres, four schools and two hospitals were among the structures flattened, affecting more than 2,000 households.

When complete, the Sh2 billion 600-metre long by 60-metre wide Ngong-Lang’ata link road is expected to open up the area and ease traffic to the city centre.

The demolitions began shortly after 6am amid tight security. Many residents said they were caught unawares.

There were no scuffles between locals and the security personnel though a sense of acrimony hang in the air. Some of those interviewed said they felt betrayed by the government.

“The peaceful conduct is largely due to the meetings local leaders held with them,” Mr Ben Ooko, a youth leader, told the Nation.

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ROAD CONSTRUCTION

"While the road construction is noble as it will open up our area for development and enhance security, the manner in which the demolitions are being carried out is unfair to many."

Human rights groups condemned the demolitions.

Amnesty International called on the government to stop pulling down structures immediately and register the affected residents.

“The goal of adequate and dignified housing cannot be met by stripping 30,000 inhabitants of the only houses, shops, clinics and schools they have,” the group said in a statement.

“Demolition before the completion of a resettlement action plan betrays the public trust and violates the law. These evictions must be halted.”

Amnesty International Kenya executive director Irungu Houghton said the demolitions breached an agreement reached by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Kenya National Human Rights Commission and the National Land Commission to resettle those affected.

Under the agreement, the registration of residents of Mashimoni, Lindi, Kambi Muru and Kisumu Ndogo villages began last week.

DEMOLITION OF HOMES

The group said the demolition of the homes, schools and business premises violates the national and international human rights obligations.

Some of the institutions destroyed include Makina Self-help Primary School and Adventure Pride Centre.

Egesa Children’s Centre was also affected.

The construction of the road has been in limbo following fears that locals would not leave the area.

The road is part of the government’s plan to reduce traffic jams and gridlocks in Nairobi.

The demolition had been extended by a week to allow residents to leave the area.

SALVAGE IRON SHEETS

According to Mr Joseph Odhiambo who runs a workshop in Mashimoni, rumours about the demolition began circulating on Sunday evening.

“Some residents then began transferring their children and household belongings to other areas,” Mr Odhiambo said.

He added that he took the decision to move to a section of the neighbourhood away from the would-be path of the tractors.

Some, like brothers Joash Ouma and Peter Ogola, were not so lucky.

They attempted to salvage iron sheets, windows, doors and other belongings from their house just opposite Mr Odhiambo’s workshop as the bulldozers approached.

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