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15,000 face eviction from airport land, says report

COUNTIES
By Patrick Beja | April 6th 2016
A plane flies over structures near Moi International Airport in Mombasa while preparing to land. Authorities want the structures demolished since they might be used as a hideout by terrorists to attack planes. [PHOTO:GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]

The proposed demolition of premises near the Moi International Airport in Mombasa will render more than 15,000 people homeless, a report by the county assembly indicates.

The impending evictions recommended by the Mombasa County Security Intelligence Committee following security fears would affect residents of Mwagosi, Bokole and Bakara in Changamwe sub-county.

MCAs, led by Deputy County Speaker Mswabah Rashid who is also Airport Ward Representative, have challenged the legality of the planned flattening of investments, mosques, schools and other property the State says are on part of Kenya Airport Authority’s (KAA) 539-acre land.

Yesterday, the MCAs criticised Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa who authored the report on planned demolition in a confidential letter to the National Land Commission.

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

They argued that a humanitarian crisis will follow unless the affected residents were adequately compensated and facilitated to resettle elsewhere.

Mr Rashid argued that the residents living adjacent to the airport did not encroach on KAA land, but settled there after being displaced during the airport expansion and were genuine owners of the land.

The MCAs, while addressing a Press conference at the county assembly yesterday, rejected a proposal by the security committee to evict people living near the airport.

“More than 15,000 people are living near the airport. The land is owned by about 20 families but they have allowed property developers to build homes. There are neither squatting nor encroaching there,” Rashid argued.

He was flanked by MCAs Maimuna Salim, Zainab Mumba, Mary Akinyi, Omar Boma, Ibrahim Kondo, Stephen Wangudi, Duncan Onyango, Omar Meti, Mohamed Hatimy, Fatuma Mote, Paul Onje and Fadhil Makarani.

Panic has gripped property owners near the airport following revelations that they might be evicted.

According to the Mombasa County Security Intelligence Committee, property on KAA land are a threat to security of the airport.

The revelations are contained in confidential communication between Marwa and NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri.

In the communication, Mr Marwa says that illegal settlements, including schools, garages and mosques pose a risk to aircraft and hinder rapid emergency respons

But yesterday, the MCAs said the county security committee should have first consulted with the county government under Governor Hassan Joho before sending the eviction proposal to Swazuri.

Rashid, Ms Salim and Mr Kondo said the mandate of planning the airport area falls under the county government and asked Marwa to keep off.

Consult Governor

“We are asking Mr Marwa and the security committee to consult with governor Joho and the county leadership over such a plan or keep off such a function because it has been devolved,” said Kondo.

Salim, who is the county assembly Leader of Minority, said it amounted to disrespect to the governor for Marwa to skip him and write to Swazuri over the evictions of county residents living near the airport.

In a statement, the MCAs said the planned evictions would violate the part two of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution which mandates the county governments to carry out county planning and development.

“Therefore Mr Marwa cannot purport to make decisions on behalf of the people of Mombasa especially over devolved function such as land without the involvement of the county government of Mombasa. So if he has any information pertaining to such, he should communicate appropriately to the relevant county government organs to allow for proper and adequate consultation before any action is taken,” said the statement.

The MCAs reassured Changamwe residents that no property would be demolished without due process being followed.

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