NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4- Hundreds of families were left homeless on Monday when government bulldozers flattened their houses on land being reclaimed for a sewerage project.
The demolition was done despite an existing court order obtained recently.
The operation kicked off at 5am and is part of the government efforts to reclaim thousands of acres of grabbed land meant for sewerage systems, water storage tanks, water treatment plants and for future expansion.
“I have perused the Notice of Motion application dated 3rd May 2020 together with the supporting affidavit. I am satisfied that the application is urgent and that the purpose of the application may be defeated unless the application is heard ex parte in the first instance and temporary orders granted to preserve the subject matter of the suit. Due to the foregoing, I hereby make the following orders… 1st and 2nd respondent ( Water and Land Cabinet Ministers) are restrained from evicting the applicants from L.R No. Nairobi/Block/175 pending the hearing of the application inter-partes,” reads a section of the order.
Some of the affected residents say they had allotment letters and were last year issued with title deeds.
“We were given this land in 1996 by the government,” Grace Nyambura said, “we were given a lease, an allotment that we pay for to the county government and a surveyor had come to demarcate this land from the disputed section.”
It all started in Ruai, where more than 2,000 acres were recovered, in a move meant to reposes 63 percent of the land that had been set aside for water and sewerage facilities.
Reports indicate that the land in Ruai had been grabbed by a top government official who was planning to put up a modern satelite city.
According to the government, the city has a 50 percent sewerage coverage- despite its growing population, as a result causing a major deterioration of the ecosystem and public health.
“Is Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko aware of what is happening to us?” Millicent Atieno, an elderly woman said.
With the ongoing heavy rains and the COVID-19 pandemic, there are concerns of a humanitarian crisis- if those displaced are not given an alternative.
Other places set to face similar operations include Karura, Loresho, Farasi pumping station, Karen pond, Kabete treatment works, among others.
In a joint statement issued last week, Water Principal Secretaries Joseph Irungu and his Land counterpart Dr Nicholas Muraguri said the government has acquired a Sh20 billion loan from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and French Development Fund (AFD) for implementation of sewerage projects in Nairobi City.
“This is intended to connect more households into the sewerage system and to construct 80,000m3/day of sewage treatment system in Ruai, this requires land. The implementation of the projects is expected to start in July 2020,” reads the statement.