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Kenya Railways ordered to pay evicted families Sh20.6 million in damages

Justice Antony Ombwayo said that the rights of the respondents to housing was violated. [iStockphoto]

Kenya Railways has been ordered to pay Sh20.6 million in damages to some 206 families whose homes were flattened to pave way for the rehabilitation of the Nakuru-Kisumu railway line.

This follows a successful petition filed by the families who claimed their eviction was unlawful and maintained that the parcels of land belonged to them.

In a suit by their advocate Kenneth Amondi, the petitioners had described their eviction as a violation of their constitutional rights. They were living in Shaurimoyo, Bondeni and Swahili villages which the corporation is laying claim to.

On Friday, however, the families got a reprieve after justice Antony Ombwayo declared that the rights of the families were violated and ordered Kenya railways to pay them Sh20.6 million.

The families will receive Sh100,000 each from the compensation as General Damages for a breach of their fundamental rights. The court also ordered Kenya Railways to settle the cost of the petition.

“I am of the view that an award of Sh20.6 million for general damages is a reasonable award,” said Justice Ombwayo.

According to the judge, the properties of the families were destroyed and stated that the evictions were carried out without the consent of the affected families.

In the suit, the families had listed Kenya Railways Corporation, Principal Secretary, State Department of Housing and Development and the Attorney General as respondents.

During the course of the proceedings, the court heard how officers from Kenya Railways accompanied by about 50 police officers raided and destroyed homes, stalls and businesses of the affected families.

Their lawyer Amondi told the court that the development subjected the families to poverty and financial strain. They sought for Sh200.1 million.

According to the petitioners, the parcels in contention belonged to them and was part of a slum upgrading project funded by the national government and donors.

In their response however, Kenya Railways defended the evictions and asked the court to dismiss the petition.

Bernadette Ndege, an official who testified on behalf of the corporation through a sworn affidavit told The court that the evictions were lawful and that the affected families were served with eviction notices.

She claimed that the corporation had not relinquished or surrendered any of its properties.

In his judgement however, Justice Ombwayo said that the rights of the respondents to housing was violated. He also stated that their socio economic rights was also violated

 “I am of the view that the Petitioners’ right to housing was violated as their houses were demolished without considering their welfare. By destroying the Petitioners’ houses, churches and schools, the Respondent denied the petitioners socio economic and cultural rights under Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” said Ombwayo.