Homeless: City slum dwellers pay price for ignoring eviction notices

A bulldozer flattens structures at Mukuru Sinai in Nairobi. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Families whose homes were demolished, last week, in Mukuru kwa Reuben and Sinai slums were living on the land illegally.

It has also come to light that the squatters had been duly compensated so as to vacate the area.

The Thursday demolitions affected scores of families who had constructed shanties on land belonging to Kenya Power and the Kenya Railway Company. The shanties were on road reserves, next to railway lines, power lines and pipelines.

Caught unawares

The demolitions were carried out by the National Construction Authority as Kenya Power and the Kenya Railway Company sought to reclaim the land.

The demolitions, which caught the residents unawares, came just days after similar ones in Mukuru kwa Njenga and Imara Daima.

More than 500 mabati structures were flattened during the demolitions. Many of the affected residents had lived in the place for more than 10 years.

Jackline Mkimba, a single mother of twin boys, had been living in Mukuru kwa Reuben for two years. She lost all her belongings after her house was demolished.

“The bulldozer showed no mercy, it scattered everything, I did not have time to save anything. All I thought about were my children,” said Mkimba.

Mkimba claimed that they were not given a notice.

John Omego, another Mukuru kwa Reuben residentk had lived along the railway line for more than 10 years.

He admitted seeing a notice in a local daily last week “but we ignored it”.

He rented the structure he lived in with his wife and their five children - all of whom are in college.

Embakasi South youth leader Zacharia Nyakundi said they had been given eviction notices but the demolitions “came too soon”.

He said the demolitions mostly affected women and children.

On March 6, the Secretary of the National Buildings Inspectorate Moses Nyakiongora said that notices had been given to those living next to railway lines, oil pipelines and electricity lines. and that there were houses marked for demolitions in the next few weeks.

High voltage cables

“Many people live under the high voltage cables and along the railway lines in areas like Imara Daima, Kangudo Road, and Mukuru Slums. We have already given the necessary notices and we will demolish the structures,” Nyakiongora said.

Previous attempts by the Kenya Railways Corporation to evict squatters from its land were unsuccessful after the squatters took the matter to court in 2004 under the umbrella of the Railway DwellersFederation of Kenya, supported by several non-governmental organisations.

In November 2013, the State corporation issued eviction notices to people who had encroached on its land, but it was all in vain.

In October last year, former Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe said the county government had issued eviction notices to those illegally living on land along the railway line.

The deputy governor said the county would use every available law to carry out the evictions.

But the residents have accused Kenya Railways of ignoring a court order that barred it from evicting them.

“This is unfair. How are we expected to work, eat and pay house rent?” asked Victoria Nyaboke, whose boutique in Mukuru kwa Reuben was among the structures demolished last year.

Nyaboke had already paid this month’s rent for the shop. When she went to open her business on Thursday morning, she found the shop had been demolished. The businesswoman could not trace her wares, making her pain worse.

John Omego said the property destroyed in the demolitions was worth about Sh5 million.

“We are confused, we do not know where to go from here and we ask the Government to tell us what next after evicting us,” said Omego.