Ex-county officials lose property in dawn demolition

Demolitions at a controversial land that belongs to the East African Portland Cement Company in Athi River on October 16, 2023. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Two former Kilifi County Government officials are counting their losses after property worth millions of shillings was destroyed yesterday.

The enforcement officers and top officials demolished houses built on land in Mabirikani they allege was irregularly allocated. Reports indicate that the occupants were given notice but did not honour it. Tenants scrambled to salvage their property as bulldozers moved in at around 5am.

Dora Chovu, a former social services officer, wailed uncontrollably saying she took Sh3 million loan to build rental houses and a retirement home on the disputed land.

Ms Chovu lamented that she was still servicing the loan and now all the investments have been destroyed. At one point, she was restrained by a neighbour from going into the house being demolished.

Reuben Ngeta, a former physical planner, is also counting losses after his property was demolished. Others affected were tenants who had reportedly been assured by the landlords that the houses would not be demolished.

Chovu said she put up the investments through honest dealings and wondered why they were brought down. “What do I do now? Where do I go? This is a big blow to my life,” she said.

But some residents supported the demolition saying the land was public property and ought to be repossessed from grabbers. Reports indicate that the land is earmarked for the county government headquarters.

Samuel Katana, a resident claimed the senior government officials allocated themselves the public land. “We are surprised by some people, they were given notice but did not move out until today when the grader was brought in to start demolishing the structures, people should respect government officials,” he said.

Katana called on the governor to speed up construction of the county headquarters to save it from paying rent.

Mwanase Ahmed, another resident, said she was informed by a friend that her house had been demolished. She wondered why the county conducted the exercise in the wee hours of the morning while families were still in bed.

“They came to demolish houses at 6am in the morning; people have lost everything. The economy is hard and people have nowhere to go to. I have been following this story for long and at times they said the demolition would not take place,” she said.

Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro said they issued several notices a long time ago but the occupants failed to honour them. “We are going to demolish everything there because we cannot allow people to allocate themselves government land,” he said.