Council carries out dawn demolitions in Nairobi

Saturday October 23 2010

A child stands by household goods that were salvaged from her home in Kahawa West before it was destroyed on Friday morning. Photo/WILLIAM OERI

Hundreds of families were left homeless and property worth millions of shillings destroyed after the City Council went on a demolition spree on Friday morning in Kahawa West, Githurai  44 and Maasai Village in Westlands.

Addressing journalists on Saturday after Friday’s 3 a.m. demolition, Kahawa West councillor Nancy Macharia said residents had not been informed of the operation.

“They were not served with notices as required by law. As a civic leader, I should have been informed of the pending eviction, if there was a land dispute,” said Ms Macharia. More than 60 families were affected in her ward.

The demolition was allegedly carried out by City Council bulldozers under the watch of Administration Police officers.

The ownership of the land on which the demolished structures once stood is in dispute, pitting those evicted against a private developer who claims they are squatting on his property.

However, Esther Muthoni, whose home was among those brought down, says she has been living on the disputed land for more than 50 years.



The victims said they were woken up at around 2 a.m. by the sound of heavy machinery. When they asked the policemen why their houses were being brought down, they were told that the structures were illegal.

Another local leader, Mr Lee Mwaura, condemned the dawn attack, saying the City Council was being used by a local “bigshot” to demolish the structures.

“This is prime property since the eastern bypass is a few metres away. We are not going to allow this to happen,” he said. He also asked Lands minister James Orengo to intervene.

Local provincial administrators have denied knowledge and responsibility over the demolitions. Kasarani DC, a Mr Mutari refused to comment on the matter while area DO Ms Chelang’at denied any knowledge of the incident.

Ms Macharia and Mr Mutari have asked the Red Cross to step in and assist residents who have now been rendered homeless.