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Court throws out Jogoo Road residents' suit to stop eviction

 A view of Nairobi's Mbotela Estate. [File, Standard]

Residents of Jogoo Road Phase Two Estate have lost their bid to challenge an eviction order from the government that seeks to demolish the estate and build affordable housing units. 

Environment and Land Court Judge Oguttu Mboya ruled that the residents, who are civil servants, failed to prove that they have proprietary rights to the government quarters off Jogoo Road.

“Despite the contention by the applicants, I am afraid that the applicants beforehand based on being tenants, do not have any proprietary rights to and or in respect of the government houses, which are currently being occupied by the same,” said Justice Mboya in his ruling.

The 365 residents had sued the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Lands, the Principal Secretary in the State Department for Housing and the Attorney General, arguing that a two-month eviction notice issued in February this year was illegal and unconstitutional. 

The residents had further argued that there was no public participation prior to the eviction notices being served and that being civil servants, they were entitled to legitimate rights and, or expectations to reside in the houses until retirement. 

“Learned counsel has submitted that the tenancy agreement under reference did not contain any termination clause and in this regard, the issuance of the two months’ notice by the first and second respondents was therefore illegal and unlawful,” stated court documents in part. 

Jogoo Road Phase Two Estate is one of several housing schemes in Nairobi’s Eastlands that have been earmarked for demolition to pave the way for the government’s affordable housing projects.

In February this year, the Ministry of Lands issued a notice to the residents of Jogoo Road Phase One and Two, Jamaa, Mbotela, Ahero and Mawenzi Gardens to vacate their homes by April 30, this year, after clearing any outstanding rent arrears and utility bills.

“As you are aware, the government is implementing the Affordable Housing Programme which is part of the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda,” stated the notice signed by Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga in part. 

“Pursuant to this, several old estates have been identified for redevelopment. To pave the way for their redevelopment, there is a need to vacate all tenants residing in these government estates immediately.”

This prompted the 365 residents to move to court, arguing that the State’s eviction order would deny them, mostly low-cadre civil servants, the right to attain decent housing and disrupt the schooling of their children. 

In his ruling, the judge sided with the government counsel who argued that the said estate was public land and that the tenants were free to obtain alternative housing given the housing allowance they received.      

“To my mind, the applicants herein, who are paid monthly house allowance, like other civil servants would be able to procure and obtain appropriate and adequate housing for themselves and families,” said Mboya in his ruling.

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