Court blocks planned demolitions

January 21, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – The High Court on Friday blocked the Government from forcibly acquiring land belonging to the Standard Group and Radio Africa for planned road expansion.

The order was issued after the Kenya Union of Journalists moved to court on behalf of the employees in the two media houses which are housed on buildings on Mombasa Road and Waiyaki way respectively.

Through Secretary General Eric Orina, the union said the intended compulsory acquisition was contrary to the rights of the workers in a number of establishments which own property along on roads.

Mr Orina told the court that the acquisition if allowed to proceed was expected to deprive numerous businesses on Mombasa Road and Waiyaki Way of their premises.

Justice Daniel Musinga barred the Minister for Roads, City Council of Nairobi and Minister for Local Government from demolishing buildings that stand on land earmarked for compulsory acquisition for purposes of road expansion.

The court order will be in force until January 31 when the respondents are expected in court to respond to the application.

Mr Orina explained that its members and thousands others derive their livelihood from the said premises and the intended forceful acquisition will affect them.

“Most of the workers are expected to lose their jobs if the premises are demolished to pave way for the acquisition and creation of the toll road which will be a violation of the economic and social rights of the applicants as provided in Article 43 of the Constitution,” he said.

“It is in the interest of justice that an interim order be granted by this court so that employees in those building premises can concentrate on their work pending determination of the main suit.”

The acquisition if allowed to proceed will affect other businesses which include Simba Colt Motors, Excel Chemicals, Kenya Shell Ltd, Real Industrial Park, Alfa Motors, Twiga Stationers, Asshowton Ltd, Safaricom Ltd, Sameer Industrial Park among others.

Following the announcement there has been mixed reactions within and outside the government. Several MPs from Rift Valley and Eastern Province had rubbished the plan.

The concerns by the MPs came after the government issued contradictory statements on the planned compulsory land acquisition.

At a joint press conference at Ardhi House on Wednesday Lands Minister James Orengo and his Roads counterpart Franklin Bett differed with Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua who had earlier in the day said that the move had been shelved.

Mr Bett explained that the concessionaire, who was contracted to expand the road, had proposed that the buildings be demolished to pave way for the construction of a larger highway.

Dr Mutua had earlier said that the government realised that the acquisition would leave a dent in the Exchequer as well as burden the Kenyan tax payers.

But Mr Orengo added that the plans to acquire the land still stood although the demolition orders had not been issued.

He also accused business owners in the targeted areas of being devious claiming that they deliberately put up their buildings on the road reserve.

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