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Roaring bulldozers pull down houses on military airbase land

Tuesday November 22 2011

By NATION REPORTER

The roaring sound of bulldozers at sunrise awakened the residents of Eastleigh Section Three on Tuesday morning.

What had seemed like a mere warning on paper to them became reality.

Parents and children preparing for work and school, respectively, were forced to abort their mission and concentrate on the imminent demolitions.

For one woman and her four children, the demolitions came at a time when she could barely raise money to move. But she had to vacate.

Ms Jamila Issac, 28, was preparing her three older children for school at the nearby New Pumwani Primary School when she heard a frenzied debate outside her house.

“This is very unfair especially at this time of the month when we have no money to move,” said one of her neighbours, as Ms Jamila ventured outside to follow the discussion.

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Her neighbours informed her that a notice had been issued expecting them to vacate the house before bulldozers got to their three-storey flat.

According to some residents, the Kenya Defence Forces had asked inhabitants of houses that had encroached on the military airbase land to vacate.

However, they ignored the order hoping it would not come to pass. (READ: More buildings demolished in Nairobi)

Ms Jamila lived in a single room on third floor in a flat located on First Avenue adjacent to the military airbase. The bulldozers demolished the room that she had called home for three years.

“I am confused. I have hardly packed and my children are asking questions why we are being chased from our house,” Ms Jamila told the Nation.

“Where shall we sleep?” she asked suppressing tears. Jamila is a housewife while her husband is a casual labourer. They pay Sh5,000 for the room.

Amid tears and desperation, it was brisk business for transport dealers as they waited in tow outside the houses of the affected residents to transport the goods to other houses.

“Biashara leo ni poa (Business is booming today),” Mr John Mwangi who pulls a cart told the Nation. The prices for ferrying the goods ranged between Sh500 and Sh3,000, depending on the distance and number of trips to be covered.

Ms Jamila could hardly raise the Sh500 to transport her household goods and had to wait for her husband. Mr Sintayehu Kebede, 45 years, said that he was also caught unawares by the morning flattening of houses.

According to Mr Sintayehu, who says he is an Ethiopian refugee, the notices were issued at the wrong time of the month because it was hard for them to get vacant houses. He called the demolitions unjust.