At least 250 families in Eldoret town were yesterday evicted from county government housing units after a six-year tussle.
The families were forced out of the premises at Macharia Estate near 64 Stadium in an exercise carried out by a contingent of police officers and county enforcement officials.
Angry residents, however, claimed they had last month secured a court order stopping the eviction, pending a hearing of a case on September 17 in which occupants of the county houses are challenging the eviction at the Eldoret Environment and Lands Court.
The county government yesterday remained dodgy on the reasons for eviction but John Nderitu, a village elder at the estate, said it might have been because of a rent payment row which started six years ago.
According to Mr Nderitu, who is also a tenant in the estate where at least 1,000 people live, the county had first ordered residents to vacate in 2013 but locals rushed to court to oppose the move.
“County officers had asked tenants to pay Sh800 per month up from the Sh400 they were paying but the occupants resisted the move and challenged it in court,” Nderitu, who has lived in the estate for more than 40 years, told The Standard.
The village elder said the eviction started at 6am, noting a notice had been issued a few weeks ago.
At some point, the police were forced to use teargas to force out tenants who declined to move out of the old houses.
“I don’t have anywhere else to go to. I told them (enforcement officers) that I am a poor widow and I have nowhere to resettle but they just told me to get out,” said Christine Too.
Another tenant, Patrick Matu, said the county government should have provided alternative residence for the evictees. “We were told that we had to move out due to sanitation issues but we have no hygiene problems here. We have been renovating the houses and the toilets on our own,” Mr Matu claimed.
Matu lamented that county askaris involved in the eviction destroyed their properties, including household goods and electronic equipment.
“One of the askaris snatched a phone from one of my neighbours and threw it away. They were throwing out everything as they emptied houses. They then smashed windows and doors. A police officer threw a teargas canister at one of the houses yet we had not resisted to move out,” he said.
Uasin Gishu County Secretary Edwin Bett defended the eviction, saying the county had secured orders to remove all occupants from the county premises.
“The police were enforcing a court order. It was not the county that was evicting people,” Bett said.
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