Nairobi, Kenya: Criminals have turned abandoned buildings earmarked for demolition into their dens.
The abandoned buildings are used by muggers and rapists as hideouts as well as headquarters for their activities.
Felistas Moraa, a resident of Huruma who owns a kiosk next to one of the vacant buildings, says it has become common to hear victims' screams at night.
"We no longer sleep soundly because there is always someone being attacked in these abandoned houses. Just last week, a girl was returning home from work when she was robbed and then raped in one of them," said Ms Moraa.
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"Despite the ground floors of some of the buildings being flooded with sewage, they have become hideouts for criminals who now carry guns."
In a related incident, she said one of her neighbours living on the second floor of an adjacent building was attacked by a gang on his way home. The man was roughed up, robbed and then sodomised.
Moraa says there is nothing residents can do because the abandoned buildings are controlled by the gangs.
"We have tried raising the matter with the authorities but nothing ever changes. We keep getting empty promises to have the buildings brought down but nothing has happened," she said.
Danson Muriuki, a victim of crime in the area, said the area was no longer safe, especially at night. And the presence of a chang'aa brewery near the condemned buildings has only worsened the situation.
"One of the survivors of the building that collapsed in April moved into a make-shift house not too far from the river and that is where she sells the chang'aa. The criminals are never sober and this might explain why they are so bold," said Mr Muriuki.
Urban Housing and Lands Executive Christopher Khaemba admitted that his department was aware of the unfortunate incidents and was working to address the issue.
He said the county had sought help from Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, and that approximately 15 police officers had been deployed to the site to oversee the demolition process.
Meanwhile, demolitions in Huruma failed to take off after a misunderstanding between the county government and the National Youth Service (NYS).
According to Mr Khaemba, NYS was to provide two excavators for the exercise but had delayed the process, demanding insurance for the equipment and personnel before any work could progress.
"We had a small issue with NYS and that is why there has been a delay in the demolitions but preparations have already begun," said Khaemba.
The demolition is targeting 54 buildings in Huruma and a total of 384 buildings across the city.