How demolitions across the country rendering locals helpless amid Covid-19 pandemic

By James Macharia 

When people see heavy-weight vehicles like bulldozers and caterpillars, some think of either construction of roads or drilling wells or even construction of other water reservoirs like dams.

But when residents of Njiru area, Nairobi County saw these earthmovers, they were on a different mission.Descending on people’s houses. A mission they needed to hit the deadline of accomplishing.

On April 5, this year, residents of Njiru area woke up in surprise of bulldozers which descended on their buildings, pulling them down mercilessly, an incident that happened in full glare of uniformed police officers.

According to reports from some victims, some houses were still incomplete, with others claiming that they had hardly entered into their newly constructed ones.

One should not dare making a mistake of forgetting that all these are done at a time Kenyans are battling with challenges caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

In the demolition that left thousands of families homeless, victims claim not to have been issued with notices of vacation prior to the inhumane act.

Kenyans took the matter to social media, vehemently condemning the evil vice at a Covid-19 era.

Makadara Member of Parliament and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party Nairobi branch chair George Aladwa also rebuked the act, calling on leaders to intervene on the matter.

While sympathizing with the Njiru residents, Aladwa remembers a similar incident in Ruai and Kariobangi North estate where families were also left counting loses after their structures were pulled down.

The Njiru demolition adds to a list of other similar incidents, including the Uhuru Market incident, off Jogoo road, Nairobi County.

Reports reveal that close to 2,000 traders in the market were left mouth-opened, tongues wagging after their structures were brought down by an Ethiopian descent developer.

The private developer did so without notice and was intending to expound his development territory. This too happened with the invigilation of police officers.

Aladwa urged leaders to compensate Kenyans whose houses were illegally brought down.

“I call upon all elected and nominated leaders in Nairobi to unite against these inhumane, brutal and untimely acts that clearly violate the rights of those we represent,” said the legislature.

Dwellers of Makima, Mbeere south constituency, Embu County have not been spared in this showdown, being the recent to taste the same water.

On Saturday April 24, 2021, the residents watched helplessly as their buildings demolished, citing absence of any notice before the awful act.

In the run up between residents and police officers who were taking vigil in the incident, six journalists were arrested and detained. Another person who found himself in the same net is Mbeere South Member of Parliament Geoffrey King’ang’i who was arrested too.

Among the journalists was KTN reporter Daniel Moige and cameraman Muriithi Mugo.

Police officers claim that the residents had illegally constructed their houses on the disputed piece of land belonging to Tana and Athi River Development Authority (TARDA).

On Friday April 23, 2021, the same authority also reclaimed the riparian land which previously was home to the Ndunguni market, rendering the traders helpless as they didn’t know what next.

“We only saw the police officers come with men in bulldozers and they gave us little time to pick our things and leave,” mourned one of the residents.

Following the trail of demolition of people’s houses across the board, lobbies from all walks of life have urged the government to enhance protocols to be followed before demolishing people’s structures.

Experts have also faulted the government, having rolled out the programme of constructing affordable houses but again on the other hand demolishing some,terming the act as a ‘clash of ideologies’

In an exclusive interview with Inooro tv, a local television, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa turned emotional on his Nyeri Town counterpart Ngunjiri Wambugu over the hot buttoned debate that took the interview with storm.

This is after Wambugu told Kimani that if he truly represents the citizens, he should go and beg with President Uhuru Kenyatta and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to stop the demolitions.

But Kimani asked him why should he beg, while they know it’s wrong and inhumane to demolish people’s houses, especially at a pandemic and rainy season.

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