I may be missing out on something here but is there a level-headed reason why anyone would oppose the relocation of Kibera residents to more decent housing than they currently inhabit?
I can make a few suppositions.
1. The residents are too afraid of change, that they are willing to continue living in squalor (flying toilets and all).
2. There are a few selfish individuals who would want to continue benefiting from their status quo.
3. The project has been poorly planned.
I am privy to the fact that currently, Kibera residents pay between Sh500 and Sh1,000 for the begrimed shacks they inhabit. The new units contain three-roomed apartments with each room going for Sh500 each. This means that residents may be forced to share bathrooms and toilets.
But isn’t this what majority of the residents currently do? Apart from having no toilets, most of them share the few that exist and bathe in enclosures made of gunny bags.
My point? There is no way moving to the new units would be injurious to the residents of Kibera. Their lives can only get better.
Those who are determined to move up the social ladder will find the Sh1,500 they need to ensure they do not share bathrooms. Those who cannot, will make do with sharing. (The bathrooms and toilets are better than what they are accustomed to anyway).
The current state of Kibera slum – one of the largest informal settlements in the world – is nothing to be pompous about. Anyone who stands in the way of trying to improve the lives of those hardworking people who live there should be sent to The Hague.
This area holds more than a quarter of the population of Nairobi and getting them out of this quagmire can only be better for the other three quarters that live in formal housing.
For those who don’t know, there are an estimated 2,000 persons per hectare in the tough neighbourhoods of Kisumu Ndogo, Makina, Mashimoni, Kianda, Soweto, Lindi, Laini Saba, Undugu, and Gatwekera.
Unless this is checked by putting up formal housing, this number is likely to spiral out of control.
According to the Ministry of Housing, the slum upgrading comes with the following perks; roads and walkways, storm water drainage, water reticulation, street and security lighting infrastructure, sewerage infrastructure, business stalls, bus stops, public toilets, environmental and solid waste management. This surely, ought to be alluring to the folks in Kibera.
I acknowledge that there is a large population of Nubians who live in Kibera whose interests must be taken into account. I am made to understand that there was a deal for them to get a communal title for about 780 acres of land in the area.
What became of this?
The reason why there was a push for a communal title is to ensure that people do not subdivide the land sell it. Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it?
I suppose with better living conditions, the students of Olympic Primary will excel to greater heights and for the youth who habitually have an axe to grind with life, there will be little reason to uproot the Kenya Uganda Railway in future ;-).