NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – Residents of Umoja III in Embakasi constituency woke up to a rude shock following demolitions that started at 5.30 on Thursday morning.
Those affected said they had not received any notifications about the early demolitions of the places they once called home.
“I bought this piece of land then I built on it. I got a phone call very early in the morning from the people who live in my flat telling me about the demolitions. I just rushed to Umoja to find them demolishing,” Daniel Kirima one of the landlord’s said.
Kirima explained that none of them had been informed if the pieces of land they owned were in question as they had purchased plots from different sellers.
The residents who watched helplessly as a bulldozer pulled down flat after flat in the full watch of the police allege that three private developers are behind the demolitions.
“There are three people who claim they own this land. We don’t know them but those carrying out the demolitions have told us that they have a court order asking them to clear the houses on that land. They say it is private land,” another landlord alleged.
When Capital FM News left the scene shortly before 1pm, about 60 houses had been destroyed leaving occupants stranded with their families in the chilly weather.
They salvaged what they could as they rushed in and out of their houses before the bulldozer got to their flats.
However, one landlord, Elijah Isiiye said he got a certificate four years ago but he never received a title deed for the piece of land where his flat stood: “He did not give me a title deed. These people came to demolish, they are not talking to anyone. They are just demolishing. They have just demolished my flat.”
There was heavy police presence to control the angry mobs who were too saddened to watch their homes flattened.
Children and their mothers settled with their household belongings outside their flats as their fathers rushed in and out trying to remove building materials that could be re-used.
Desperate and deep in thoughts, parents sat outside guarding the little they had saved pondering on the next move. Children innocently sat or played most probably unaware of their displacement.
There were no government officials on the ground to explain why the demolitions were being carried out in the huge piece of land opposite Benrose in Umoja III.
Earlier, Water Assistant Minister Ferdinand Waititu was arrested for trying to stop demolition of the houses in his constituency.
Witnesses said the MP accompanied by a group of youths stormed the demolition site demanding that the exercise be stopped.
Nairobi Police boss Antony Kibuchi said the group started throwing stones at the police when they were ordered to leave the site.
The demolitions in Umoja come few months after similar destruction in Syokimau that saw palatial homes razed.
People affected by the demolitions have questioned the government’s role in protecting Kenyans and checking legality of land ownership in the country.
In the Syokimau incident, corruption cartels at the Lands Ministry were blamed for giving fake title deeds to the alleged land owners.
Despite the huge public outcry, Kenyans are yet to see the government crackdown on conmen who sell land illegally to unsuspecting fellow citizens.