NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has ordered a stop to all evictions and demolitions following an incident where a seven year old child was trampled to death and a woman electrocuted at a Nairobi slum over the weekend.
The premier said in a statement that the brutality with which evictions were carried out was a cause of concern and ran contrary to the Bill of Rights which guaranteed Kenyans the right to housing.
“This brutality is inhuman, unbearable, sends the wrong signals to the citizens who had hoped for a change for the better with the coming of the new Constitution and therefore unacceptable. That new Constitution guarantees the right to housing,” the statement said.
The woman and the child died and scores of other residents injured when police moved in to evict residents of Mukuru Kwa Njenga from a piece of land said to belong to a steel manufacturing company. Residents claim that they were not given notices to vacate the property.
Among the demonstrators was Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu who urged the residents to hold their grounds insisting the evictions were unlawful.
In his statement, Odinga said: “The citizens being evicted with so much brutal force are largely victims of an era when the government failed in the discharge of its duties.”
The PM emphasised that the order will remain in effect until measures are put in place to ensure residents are not evicted only to be rendered homeless.
“It is not a government policy to treat citizens the way the evictions have been done so far. The government wants a human face in any activity involving its officers and the citizens,” he said.
The Prime Minister further pointed out that in places where evictions have to take place, it should be in a phased and systematic way to avoid a situation where families including children spend days in the cold.
“Steps need to be taken to ensure that those being removed have alternative place to stay first,” he said.
More than 100 families were left homeless following the demolition of the houses in a section of the sprawling Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum in Embakasi and have now moved their belongings to the playground of a nearby school.
The co-ordinator of Mukuru CBO Alliance, Christopher Otieno has appealed for assistance for the evicted families who are now camping at the Mukuru Kwa Njenga Primary School Grounds.