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Residents in court over eviction

MERU, Kenya, May 8 – More than 300 residents of a village in Isiolo have moved to court seeking compensation from the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) for allegedly taking over their land illegally to expand the Isiolo airstrip into an international airport.

The residents from Ntulili sub location claimed on Friday that the Authority has encroached on their land and fenced their homesteads, churches and schools in readiness of expansion work, while they have not compensated them.

They have also enjoined the Meru County Council in the suit saying the civic body conspired with KAA and gave them the go-ahead before the villagers were given alternative land.

In a case filed before Meru Resident Judge Justice Anyara Emukule by Messrs Peter Ntari, Peter Miriti, Bernard Muthaura, Edward Chokera and Leonard Muriungi on behalf of the villagers, they want the Authority barred from continuing with the construction work, until the case is heard and determined.

They are alternatively asking for compensation or relocation to another place.

Through their lawyer, Mugambi Laichena, the residents said that the authority acted in an inhumane manner when they ceded 4km square of their land for the extension of the airstrip, before compensating them as the law stipulates.

When the case came up for an inter parte hearing, KAA lawyer, Helen Mate made a preliminary application to have the case dismissed with costs, arguing that the plaintiffs had violated or ignored several mandatory provisions before they filed the suit.

She said the case lacked merit adding that the expansion of the airport is in line with the government’s plan of converting Isiolo Town into a resort city as envisaged in its Vision 2030.

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Justice Emukule however asked the KAA, who are said to have fenced the homesteads of the plaintiffs inside the area the airport has occupied, to be humane and let the children access schools in the area.

Mr Laichena had complained that the first defendants were restricting the residents and their children from accessing essential facilities like schools and churches and thus sought for orders from the court to have them asked to stop their alleged mistreatment.  

The judge fixed a ruling date over the preliminary objection application made by KAA for May 29 this year.


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