Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 1% need their airports - Neighborhoods get in the way

200 Thousand




By Athman Amran
Over 200,000 people have been left homeless after six bulldozers flattened their houses at Kyang’ombe village off Mombasa Road in Nairobi under the supervision of armed Administration Police officers.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is said to have given the residents notice to vacate the area, to clear it and create space for aircrafts flying over before landing or taking-off from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
KAA corporate affairs manager Dominic Ngigi declined to comment claiming that the matter was now in the hands of the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner and the Nairobi Provincial Police Officer.
The evictions began at around 10pm on Friday catching the residents by surprise. Some residents managed to secure their household goods from the bulldozers’ path but a number of them had no time to remove their items, which were destroyed as the houses were being flattened.

Some residents managed to secure their household goods from the bulldozers’ path (PHOTO:MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD)
By early Saturday morning, about 1000 houses were already destroyed as the bulldozers advanced towards more than 4000 other houses as desperate residents continued to remove their household goods away from the path of the bulldozers. More other houses beyond the scene of the current evictions have also been earmarked for demolition.
Most of the families evicted work as casual labourers in the nearby factories in Nairobi’s Industrial Area and had moved there for easy access. They could not go to work on Saturday, as they had to empty their houses and ponder where to go next.
Permanent houses with shops, mini-supermarkets, concrete apartments and other semi-permanent house build from corrugated iron sheets were not spared. More than ten schools, a number of churches, garages, bars, shops and other businesses were destroyed.
Some residents interviewed said they were given notice to vacate the area about three weeks ago, while others claimed they never saw any notice but just heard rumours of the impending evictions.
“I do not know where to go. I have lived here for the past four years,” Irene Nyaguke said adding that she and her family never received any notice to vacate.
She had two children who she said would not be able to go to school on Monday as the school they were going to was demolished.
“They came with armed police who stood by. There is nothing we can do. They have not told us where to go next or where we can get our next meal,”
Osogo James, who has lived at Kyang’ombe for the past five years, said he had also just heard rumours of the eviction.
“There was no written notice,” he said.
He was guarding his household goods together with his wife and a two-year old son and a three months old daughter, who was wailing.
“She is hungry. The children are hungry. The mother is trying to cook something,” he said as his wife lit a stove.
“We have nowhere to go. I will just continue to sit here with my family until we decide what to do next.  We just pray that it does not rain,” Osogo said.

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