Painful Christmas for home owners as demolition nears

Houses belonging to Buruburu Farm developers in Njiru Nairobi. Kenya Power has given owners notice to vacate by after it was established they had encroached on the company's land. [David Njaaga, Standard]
Dozens of city home owners may be rendered homeless by Christmas after their houses were earmarked for demolition.

The owners of the houses built in Buruburu Farmers Land, Njiru, Mowlem and Saika have until December 24 to vacate or face demolition by Kenya Power.

Kenya Power says the houses are illegal, as they stand on power line reserves.

The houses are among thousands of constructions Kenya Power says are illegally built on a 100km stretch reserve known as a wayleave that stretches 5,300km countrywide.

Operation launched

In March, the power company launched an operation dubbed Ondokea Laini, seeking to reclaim encroached land. It says 15,250 unsafe structures, particularly in informal settlements, have been cleared in Nairobi.

At least 10,000 such structures extending 6km have been removed in Imara Daima, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mukuru kwa Reuben and Sinai village.

Other areas mapped include Umoja Phase 1, Inner Core, Tena, Embakasi Baraka Estate to Tassia Estate, Mathare Valley slums, Industrial Area in Nakuru and Mazeras and Bangladesh in Mombasa.

A visit by The Standard to Njiru and areas along Kangundo road established rows upon rows of bungalows and maisonettes built close to the wayleave.

At a meeting bringing together close to 30 homeowners in Buruburu Farmers Land, the property owners expressed fear to The Standard over the notice, given their tract of land has been controversy-ridden since they settled in it.

Owners compensated

One of the home owners, who bought a plot there in 2016, said Kenya Power had compensated the original owners (Buruburu Farmers Land) in the late 1970s.

The home owner added that Kenya Power later “donated” the land to Buruburu Youth Settlement Scheme in 2008, which subdivided and sold pieces to those who are now facing eviction.

Kenya Power has denied “donating” any land.

A 60 by 40 plot in the location goes for about Sh500,000.

Last August, a person was killed and scores injured after violence pitting the youth group and the original land owners erupted.

Most of the home owners, including the youth group that sold them chunks of land, argued that the notice by Kenya Power was fake, highlighting the confusion that has rocked the demolition orders.

Calvince Odera, secretary of Buruburu Youth Settlement Scheme, claimed there was bias from the power company, as they were the only ones being targeted. They demanded court orders first.

“The houses are legal. The distance they gave us is one we adhered to. The wazees (original owners) still have interest yet they have already been paid and their company dissolved,” said Mr Odera.

He added: All Government offices will not be working when the notice expires. Isn’t that suspicious? Let them come, we will take it as it comes, but it should not only be us targeted."

The residents say they have been harassed at least three times this year by “goons” who want them to vacate.

“Even if we encroached Kenya Power land “unknowingly” we should be served a legal notice that is fair in every part of the country. A notice that must be gazetted,” said one of the home owners.

However, Kenya Power authenticated the notice and denied hiring goons to vacate anyone, saying it only “hired casuals” as the area was prone to criminal gangs.

Not goons

“These were not goons but hired casuals supervised by Kenya Power team and escorted by armed police. The area has security challenges because of existence of armed gangs,” said Kenya Power Security Services Manager Geoffrey Kigen.

However, the company said the operation was preceded by a 14-day notice and public barazas to enhance sensitisation.

The residents say the notice is wrongly addressed as it mentions Mowlem and Saika areas in Dandora. They are concerned that it is not stamped.

The notice warns of encroachment on the 220k and 132kv power line in Nairobi.

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Buruburu Farmers LandDemolitionsKenya Power