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Plight of Kibera residents worsens as demolitions begin

By Josphat Thiong'o | July 24th 2018 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Kibera residents watch as their houses on the road are demolished by the bulldozers in Mashimoni area, Kibra constituency, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina/Standard]

Thousands of Mashimoni residents in Kibera were left homeless when bulldozers demolished their houses.

Officers from various security agencies patrolled the slum as the structures were brought down.

Many of the residents claimed they were caught by surprise, although the Government had given notice of the demolition and even extended it by a week to allow them to leave. The demolition was to prepare the way for the construction of the Ngong Road-Kibera-Kiungu Karumba-Lang'ata link road.

Mary Akoth could be seen rummaging in the debris of what was once her home, looking for any valuables. A plastic plate, a toothbrush, a sufuria and a portrait of her family were all she could find since most of her electronic items had been crushed. The rest of her belongings, including clothes, had been stolen by youth who took advantage of the predicament of those who had been evicted to loot.

Nowhere to go

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“Where do I go? Just yesterday I had made arrangements to transport my belongings and my family upcountry as I look for alternative shelter, but now I have nothing left,” lamented Ms Akoth, as she hurled insults at the officers conducting the demolition.

The mother of three said she had lived in the area for the past five years. She said she could not afford the cost of moving after the Government’s issued the notice. She added that she could not pay the Sh7,000 rent for houses in the vicinity.

Other families who until yesterday called Mashimoni home suffered the same fate as Akoth.

According to locals, the demolition that saw the destruction of more than 3,000 houses, started at around 7am. It also saw schools such as Makina Self Help Primary, Egesa Primary, Mashimoni Primary Old Nation Church brought down.

The issue of compensation cropped up, with families blaming their failure to vacate the land on lack of resources to do so.

Wilson Lundu, who said he had lived in Kibera since 1980, was among the lucky ones who had managed to move their belongings before the demolition began.  He claimed that the Government had promised the people financial assistance, but so far the victims had received nothing.

“Most people did not heed the call to vacate because they lacked the money to help them start new lives elsewhere. The Government promised to compensate us last week but we have yet to receive even a single coin,” stated Mr Lundu.

No communication

He also accused the authorities of not communicating clearly.

“After meeting last week, there were reports that we had been given until schools closed. That is what brought about the confusion,” added Lundu.

However, John Cheboi, the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) communication officer, insisted that the demolition would go on and that the residents had embraced the exercise.

“We talked to the schools to make sure they made arrangements and some of them have hired houses elsewhere where learning will continue. We are impressed because there was no violence and majority of residents moved voluntarily,” he stated.

On the issue of compensation, the officer said Kura was working on a report to be handed to Treasury for funds to be released. The report includes the names, phone numbers and identification card numbers of the families affected.

kibera demolitions eviction
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