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Help at last for families hit by night demolitions

NYANZA
By Kepher Otieno | February 8th 2021

Kadmala Mirriam Hassan is comforted by Farda Salim after Nubian community's houses were demolished at Kibos, Kisumu County. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Mzee Ahmed Juma was inconsolable after a place he called home since 1982 was demolished.

Juma recounts the Friday night ordeal that rendered him homeless.

“I was deep asleep when I was woken up by a choking and suffocating smell and war cries from residents,” he says.

Little did he know the chocking smell was tear gas fired by police to force the residents out of their houses.

“My grandson peeped through the window and saw anti-riot police and bulldozer pulling down buildings. The reality dawned on me that I would be homeless,” he says

“Tokeni nje ... (come out),” shouted the police, he says.

“Nyinyi ndio bado vichwa ngumu! Tuliwaambie mtoke kwa railway land na mna lenga (You were told to exit the Railways land but refused).”

He sobbed as he was escorted out to the cold.

But he was not alone. Across, in an alley, were thousands of families that lived in Kibos village, Kisumu.

Converge under a tree

Kenya Railways has reclaimed the land that was irregularly awarded to private developers.

Ahmed Juma, 65, is stranded after the demolition of his home in Kibos. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Juma Shariff Abdi, Alima Noor and Khadija Mohammed were among the affected residents.

Although they had received prior warning to vacate the land, they did not know where to move to and continued living in the houses until the bulldozers came calling in the dead of the night.

The families converged under a tree as if to seek shelter from the biting cold, but they had to battle mosquitoes the whole night.

Assorted household goods were strewn all over the place.

Such are the frustrations of the families, the majority of them Nubians, displaced from the Kenya Railways line.

Good Samaritans donated assorted foodstuffs to the families and assisted them to get temporary shelter.

Youth attacked anybody who went to the area for fear of losing their belongings.

Area MP Shakeel Shabbir visited the families and appealed to the government to reconsider resettling them.

He donated assorted foodstuff and leased four tarpaulin tents worth Sh6,000 each to shelter the affected families.

A hungry child reacts in a makeshift shelter after Nubian community's houses were demolished at Kibos, Kisumu County. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

He then gave up temporary space at the CDF offices to accommodate the elderly.

“I am so surprised that even the mosque has been demolished,” he told The Standard.

The MP said among the Muslim, a Mosque was revered and should not be demolished. “What they did was an affront to the Muslim faith,” he said, adding: “They ought to have told us to remove the expensive gadgets there”.

Shabbir urged the county government to assist the affected families as many lost everything in the demolitions.

Sheikh Musa, who is also the Chairman of the Muslim faith in Kisumu, condemned the demolitions, especially of the Mosque.

“I am shocked that even the Mosque, which is only adjacent and not standing on KR land, had to be pulled down,” Musa said.

Shabbir said although they welcomed plans for infrastructure development, the evictions needed to have been done in a humane manner.

“They have lived here since 1982, and so chasing them without the option of resettlement is cruelty,” he said.

Human rights groups and the Kenya Red Cross Society pitched tent in the area to assess damages and assist affected families.

Kondele Centre for Justice Rights Defender's Paustine Gesare sympathised with the elderly, who were rendered homeless. She appealed to well-wishers to assist the families.

Paul Mark of Mamboleo Human Rights group also appealed to the public to donate various items.

He asked the county to resettle families on land that has no dispute. This is after earlier attempts to settle families near land belonging to former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey hit a snag.

Area Assistant Chief Julius Apiyo denied knowledge of deaths during the Friday night demolitions as alleged by some people.

“Nobody died here..We don’t have such a report yet,” he said. Regional Police Boss Karanja Muiruri also denied reports of deaths.

Women and children in a makeshift shelter after Nubian estate in Kibos, Kisumu County was demolished to pave way for the expansion of meter gauge railway. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya Railways MD Philip Mainga last year issued an eviction notice to families which lapsed.

The exercise was done to pave way for the construction of the railway line from Nakuru to Kisumu at a cost of Sh3.8 billion.

This comes after the refurbishment of the Kisumu port at a cost of Sh3 billion to promote the blue economy.

Muhoroni town was also affected by demolitions. Muhoroni Chamber of Commerce branch boss Felix Aminda condemned the incident that affected traders and residents.

He asked the county government, banks and microfinance institutions to consider giving loans to affected traders. “We want those affected assisted to restart life,” he said.

The Kisumu county government donated assorted foodstuffs worth Sh300,000 to households affected by demolitions in Kibos. City manager Abala Wanga, condemned the manner in which the demolition was carried out.

He revealed that the county government has allotted 18 acres of land for resettlement of 3,000 members of the Nubian community that were affected by the demolitions.

Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o also pledged to give 2,000 pieces of iron sheets to help the families to construct their houses.

Construction

“Kenya Railways has created a serious human settlement disaster, and therefore we have to find a lasting solution,” said Prof Nyong’o.

Well-wishers including Kibos Sugar factory donated mattresses, foodstuffs and tents. Area MCA George Olwal gave Sh100,000 in cash to the families and donated assorted foodstuff worth Sh200,000 million.

Displaced families have sued Kenya Railways seeking compensation, quantum damages and resettlement.

Last year Kenya Railways hired 800 skilled and semi-skilled labour to construct the 216km Nakuru -Kisumu meter-gauge railway.

There are also 440 servicemen from the National Youth Service and Kenya Defence Forces roped in the exercise.

The construction is expected to be complete in the next two months.

The 216km railway line will connect to Kisumu port to enable the ferrying of cargo and passengers to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and DRC via Lake Victoria.

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