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More than 3,500 people evicted to pave way for railway

By Kepher Otieno | February 7th 2021

Workers rehabilitating the old railway line. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

More than 3,500 individuals in Kibos village in Kisumu County spent the night in the cold after the Kenya Railways (KR), demolished their homesteads standing on the old Railway lines.

This is after the 90-day notice issued by KR Managing Director Philip Mainga last year lapsed forcing them to forcefully reclaim the property it says was grabbed.

The exercise was done to pave way for the rehabilitation of the old railway line from Nakuru to Kisumu which is to cost Sh3.8 billion.

The line to Kisumu will support the newly refurbished Sh3 billion Kisumu port expected to revive active marine and inland water transport in Lake Victoria to promote a blue economy.

Last week, KR authorities reminded the locals that the notice was due to expire but they ignored the warnings. Last night, KR and Kisumu Security raided the homes and brought them down.

The Sunday Standard sought for comments from Police boss Karanja Muiruri, but he asked for more time to revert.

Some of the affected families defied the eviction notices issued by KR claiming that the land in Kibos, is communal.

“Kenya Railways will not bear any liability for any loss or damage,” read the notice.

But some residents dismissed the notice and claimed they had the relevant documents for their land.

Nubian community chairman Rashid Khamis and committee member Noor Rajab asked KR to be fair to them as a minority community.

“We are not saying no to the eviction notice. But we are wondering where to go with our families and grandchildren having stayed here since 1937,” protested Khamis.

Some affected Nubian residents vowed to contest the matter in Court to the ‘bitter end.’

They also protested the move by KR as ‘harsh’, saying they had allotment letters that allowed them to occupy the disputed 14 hectares of land that KR is laying claim to.

“As far as we are concerned, we are far from the railway line,” said Rajab. He disclosed that they had recently applied for title deeds and the process to legitimise their occupancy was ongoing.

The woes began on March 9, 2020, when the 1st Respondent KR informed the Petitioners Kibos Community, to vacate the land or they will be forcefully evicted.

This was to happen, within seven days ending March 16 2020 to pave way for the revitalization and operation of the Nakuru-Kisumu Railway line.

In January 2021, representatives of the KR visited the area and reminded the locals to move to pave way for the project.

Property worth more than Sh15 million brought down by Kenya Railways bulldozers in Kibos, Kisumu.

Forcefully evict

Fearing that the 1st Respondent will forcefully evict them, without alternative houses, land, shelter, or accommodation, rendering them homeless, contrary to Article 43, the Petitioners have moved to court.

They want conservatory orders restraining 1st Respondent from forcefully evicting them, without the requisite statutory notice, resettlement action plan, and alternative accommodation. 

Kisumu County Chief Officer for Communication John Oywa absolved his office from the ongoing forceful evictions in Kibos.

“The demolitions in Kibos is purely being carried out by KR and not Kisumu County government,” Oywa clarified.

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