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Mechanics engage police in running battles over land dispute in Grogan, Nairobi

By By CYRUS OMBATI | June 18th 2013

NAIROBI, KENYA: Running battles have broken out between police and jua kali artisans in Grogan area, Nairobi over move to evict them from private land.

Tension has been high since 6am Tuesday as police sealed off the land to lock out more than 900 jua kali artisans following a court order.

Police have urged motorists to stop taking their cars to the area for repairs over fears there may be clashes on Tuesday.

Tens of police officers have been deployed to the spot as hired guards watched over the disputed parcel of land through Monday night.

This follows an order issued by Justice Pauline Nyamweya that the 892 mechanics move out of the Sh2 billion land to enable The Jamia Masjidahl develop it.

Police and a spokesman of The Jamia Masjidahl confirmed a notice had been issued for the mechanics to vacate the area and the notice had expired. They added that it was, therefore, in order for them to take over the field.

The mechanics were allocated 1.25 acres of land near the disputed one and asked to relocate there but some are yet to do so.

Nairobi Area police boss Benson Kibui said they had been mandated by the courts to enforce the order and ensure the owners take over the field.

“It is important that even motorists stop bringing their cars there and the mechanics honour the orders. We hope it will be a smooth transfer,” said Kibui.

The Jamia Masjidahl Spokesman Mustafa Musa said they are in order to take over the land.

The mechanics under Migingo Mechanics Self-Help Group had been claiming ownership of the land while The Jamia Masjidahl said they bought it from Hussein Ahmedali Hebatualaa.

A past bid to take over the land led to bloody confrontation between the police and the mechanics that cause the death of two people and several injuries besides destruction of property.

The artisans, who had been occupying the disputed plot, were seeking ownership of the land through adverse possession.

They claimed they had been operating from the land since 1987 and should, therefore, be granted ownership.

In their case, the artisans said they will suffer great damages and loss of livelihoods if the defendants are not stopped from interfering with the land.

However, the alleged owners of the plot want a court case filed by the traders dismissed. The Jamia Masjidahl (registered trustees of the Jamia Mosque Committee), through lawyer Ahmnednasir Abdulahi, managed to win the battle and the judge made the ruling in his favour.

The Jamia Foundation said they planned to put up a school and a mosque.

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