Kenya: Call to include the poor in planning mega projects after poor families displaced for road construction

Over 20,000 families have been left homeless after a government agency demolished their houses to pave way for road construction. The demolished was done despite an earlier agreement between government agencies and community advocates to extend the deadline by one week to give those affected time to relocate. 

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2 August 2018

Include the poor from the onset in planning for mega projects, urges columnist

Author: Gabriel Dolan, Standard Digital (Kenya)

“The poor deserve inclusion in mega projects at onset”

The sight of a yellow bulldozer moving menacingly in the direction of residential areas is enough to get my stomach churning and my heart palpitating. I have witnessed too many violent, destructive and illegal evictions. To watch doors, windows, marriage certificates, family photos, schools, spoons, stools, lifetime’s endeavours and thriving communities flattened with one swing of a ‘dozer is a horrific and unforgettable experience.

Not for the first time, the people of Kibera this week experienced another early morning eviction that destroyed five schools and left 25,000 homeless. Last week an agreement had been reached between the affected parties, civil society organisations and Kenya Urban Roads Authority but that was torn to shreds by the yellow ‘dozers sacrificing the poor to the gods of development….Avoidable and illegal evictions have become normalised. Most such narratives are constructed by those at the top. If history were written by those at the bottom we might have a more realistic, humane and just outcome. But there is such resolve and publicity around the big four agenda that the poor may be reduced to collateral damage in programmes promoted as alleviating poverty. We may alleviate poverty by making the poor pay the price.

Any programme, therefore, that is geared towards building more units deserves encouragement. However, like the new link road through Kibera, we must not be afraid to ask who will benefit most from the housing projects and where do the poorest of the citizens fit in to the grand plans?...Put another way, is this an urban renewal programme or a social cleansing one? Can we justify a programme that uses public funds to build houses for those who can already afford them anyhow? In all of this there is an urgent need for clear, values based planning that includes the poor from the outset not as an afterthought. We may have 20 per cent middle class but that leaves 80 per cent who are not. There are other models of housing and development that respects the rights of all but when easy profit becomes the driving force then we end up with more Kibera disasters.

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2 August 2018

Over 20,000 left homeless after demolition to pave way for road construction

Author: Fredrick Obura, Standard Digital (Kenya)

“Over 20,000 families left homeless in Kibera demolition”

Demolition of houses kicked off on Monday in Nairobi’s Kibera Slums paving way for the construction of Sh2 billion link road. The residents numbering 20,000 were warned about the demolitions but many stayed put prompting the government to evict them forcefully as early as 5.00 am. “The construction of Ngong Road-Kibera-Kiungu Karumba-Langata Link Road is at advanced stage. However, there are illegal structures which are on the said road reserve that hindered construction works at Kibera,” reads part of the warning statement. “This is therefore to give Public Notice that these structures must be removed before 16th July, 2018.”

The Ngong Road-Kungu Karumba-Lang’ata link road is expected to ease traffic in the capital city of Nairobi and has been in the pipeline since as far back as 2012 The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) had maintained there would be no compensation for the residents as the land belongs to government. Kura Communication Officer, John Cheboi observed that a majority of the structure owners were landlords living in Langata and they would only be assisting the families directly affected. “You cannot compensate someone for land that they do not own because they do not have title deeds. We will however give out something ‘small’ to help the residents relocate. They will also be allowed to carry their structural materials,” added Cheboi.

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