NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21 – Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waititu on Wednesday raised temperatures at Uhuru Park during an prayer service for the Sinai fire victims, when he told slum dwellers to resist efforts to relocate them from potentially high risk areas until they were adequately consulted.
The legislator, who resisted attempts by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka to get off the podium, urged the informal settlers not to move unless the government first identified a habitable area where they could be resettled.
Waititu first stirred emotions when he touched on the cancelled mass burial before taking on the issue of resettlement and slum upgrading projects.
“There shall be nothing like moving people from the slums without holding proper discussions on the same. And we also have to ensure that the slum dwellers who get houses in the slum upgrading projects afford them,” he said.
“If someone lives in a carton and you take him to a stone built house and ask them to pay rent, do you think they will be able to afford?” he posed.
Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi had earlier challenged Prime Minister Raila Odinga to lead other politicians in relocating constituents who live in accident prone areas.
On Tuesday the ministry announced that it would resettle all individuals who live next to railway lines, airports and the Kenya Power and Lighting Company
way leaves. A special committee to spearhead the same has already been set up.
“I would kindly request you to mobilise all politicians who have informal settlements within their constituencies so that when we start moving people from the risky areas, politics do not interfere with the lives of our people,” she said amid applause.
She also proposed that the country holds a national day of prayer under the leadership of President Mwai Kibaki, in the wake of the recent tragedies that have left hundreds of Kenyans dead.
Archbishop Eliud Wabukala led the prayer meeting and urged the government to provide better governance as well as more employment opportunities for the country’s youths.
He argued that this would help deal with poverty and perhaps alienate some of the accidents that had recently happened.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga on his part noted that the government would embark on its slum upgrading project once a court order halting the process was lifted.
He also called for the enforcement of disaster response mechanisms which he said ought to be prioritised in all organisational structures to minimise fatalities in times of disasters.
He further directed the Special Programmes Ministry to coordinate with relevant agencies to ensure that disaster preparedness in all major towns was up to date.
“All corporations, public or private, need clear and up to date plans for responding to disasters and every institution must have their in-house first line of defense,” he insisted.
VP Musyoka on the other hand asked the Kenya Pipeline Company to work with insurance companies and ensure that the affected families were compensated.
Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa also challenged the government not to relent in its efforts to help the affected families, even after dust on the issue had settled.
“There is a tendency to forget the affected once the burials take place and I would like to ask the government not to forget them,” he said.
Energy Minister Kiraitu Muriungi, Nairobi PC Ndirangu Njoroge and several other MPs were also present.
The government will offer Sh60,000 to all the bereaved families (totaling 119) in addition to providing a coffin. An additional 164 families who lost property in the fire will receive Sh10,000 as start up capital to help them re-coup their losses.