NAIROBI, June 14 – Residents of Mukuru Sinai Slums have been given a two week notice to vacate land set aside for Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC).
Speaking on Friday during a media tour, Pipeline’s Communications Officer Jacinta Ochieng described the settlement as a time bomb due to the explosive nature of the petroleum products transported on the underground pipeline.
She added that the settlement stands on the way of the upcoming Kenya -Uganda Pipeline, which is set to start in July.
“Should there be a fire, just imagine what will happen here. Secondly we are unable to put up the pipeline to Uganda because our land has been encroached,” she noted.
The slum which stretches for over three kilometres and holds more than 15,000 people stands on a 6 kilometre allowance reserve normally allocated to the rail line and the pipeline.
KPC and KRC will engage Provincial Administration in the eviction and the slum dwellers are currently being sensitized.
Railways Security Officer Mathenge Muriuki added that the encroachment poses a security threat for the residents and hampers their operations.
“This damping of plastics can easily cause a serious derailment. Again we have intentions to upgrade from the meter gauge to the standard gauge but with this settlement it will be hard to work on that improvement,” he said.
Makadara District Officer Margaret Mbugua said that the government was using diplomacy to ensure that the residents voluntarily vacate the area.
She said: “We have been holding barazas and actually I have planned to go to the churches around here and we will talk to them because we want to give the whole exercise a human face.”
The DO however warned that the government may be forced to use force if the residents fail to heed to the eviction notice.
“They should know that they are here illegally and there is no compensation for them. If they don’t move I am sorry we will have to move them,” she added.
Muriuki announced that the area will be fenced off as a pilot project of a wider plan to reclaim grabbed land and fence it off.
Residents however expressed displeasure with the move insisting that the land was sold to them. Many of them pleaded for more time while others insisted they will not leave.
“Now that they are giving us vacation notices are they going to give us an alternative place to build because we bought this land?” inquired Jacinta Munyoki, one of the residents.
“None of us was given this land, we all paid for it and the chief was involved but we don’t have title deeds because this is a ghetto. Honestly when you see the government court of arms will you think it is corruption?” added another, John Mugambi.
The local provincial administration has been accused of colluding with politicians in selling plots in the area. Past efforts by the corporation to evict people who encroached on their land have been thwarted by politicians.