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Hundreds left desperate as demolitions continue

By | November 22nd 2011

By Cyrus Ombati and Rawlings Otieno

Bulldozers have demolished several buildings near the Moi Air Base in Eastleigh, Nairobi in the ongoing demolitions to reclaim public land.

The demolition started early Tuesday morning under heavy guard from the army and police even as locals protested the move.

Police on guard at the demolition site near Moi Air Base, Eastleigh, Nairobi. Photo: Moses Omusula/Standard

Some officials who spoke on condition of not being named said they were under instructions to pull down all structures near the airport, which is used by the Kenya Airforce.

Police explained that the structures along Section 3, which include highrise buildings, pose a security danger to the airport.

"I believe they were all notified of the demolitions. We are under instructions to ensure no disruption of this operation," said an officer at the scene.

The exercise in Eastleigh left hundreds homeless as those caught unawares rushed to salvage their valuables. Their misery was made worse by heavy rains that were experienced early in the morning.

"We do not know where we will go because it seems no ne respects the law. We must be protected," shouted a woman as she hurriedly went to pick up her belongings.

The exercise came in the wake of ongoing demolitions in Nairobi targeting structures near airports that the government says lie on public land.

On Saturday, several shanties were demolished in Mitumba slum near Wilson Airport as part of the operation to clear structures situated next to airports and vital installations. About 3,000 people were living in the slum at that time, which was established in the early 1980s.

A bulldozer demolishes a high rise structure near the Moi Air Base at Eastleigh in Nairobi, Tuesday. Photo: Moses Omusula/Standard

The slum covers a huge area and is bordered by the Nairobi National Park in the south, Parkview estate in the east and South C estate in the west.

The Eastleigh incident is the latest in a series of demolitions after Kyang’ombe, KPA slums, Syokimau and the Embakasi manyattas. Early October, kiosks near Eastleigh were brought down by the military.

In the case of other land near the airports, Kenya Airports Authority officials said the agency had notified the residents to vacate the area years ago and the demolitions were meant to eliminate the possibility of an aviation disaster in the future.

Some of the residents of Syokimau have since moved to court to stop the exercise. A parliamentary committee is investigating how the exercise was conducted and the documents to show ownership were obtained amid claims from the government they are fake.

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