Kibera’s Soweto slum torn down in dawn raid
THOUSANDS of Soweto residents in Kibera slums yesterday watched helplessly as a bulldozer rolled into the slum destroying their houses and other properties. The demolitions were carried out after the expiry of a five-day notice that was issued by the City Council of Nairobi on Saturday.
Desperate mothers struggled to salvage what they could from their houses. They were joined by men who tried to carry away the iron sheets and other building materials that they manged to salvage. They said they received a notice on Saturday morning demanding them to move away from the land to pave way for the slum upgrading programme. “This is a very short notice for people like us who live here because this is what we can afford to pay,” said David Livuku, a resident.
He said he received a call in the morning when in Upper Hill where he was working at a construction site informing him that the houses were being pulled down. “Where do they expect us to go to, I am homeless with even no spoon yet I am a family man with four kids and a wife. All my property has been stolen during the exercise,” Likuku said.
He said the government only relocated a few residents to the new houses in Otiende, Lang'ata and left others in the slum. “We could not fit in those houses because Kibera is among the biggest slums in Africa with a population of more than two million people,” he said.
He said several politicians including Prime Minister Raila Odinga had visited the slum some months back and assured residents that no demolitions would be carried out at any time. “Our politicians have been surveying this place and assuring us of security saying no one should bother vacating since everything has been put in place,” added Likuku.
He said all the residents have been paying their monthly rent as any other person who stays in a rental house. “We have been all paying our rent according to the sizes of the houses we can afford and most of us earn a living from the small businesses we operate around the area,” he added. He said most of the residents affected were recently evicted from Mitumba, Kyang'ombe and Sinai slums after the fire tragedy.
The residents blamed the government for the continued demolition of the houses terming it as betrayal. “We are being betrayed in our own country and being handled as aliens because those people ordering the exercise live in bungalows that will never be demolished come rain or sunshine,” Gladys Muthoni, a resident from Soweto said.
She claimed she has been living in the slum for years since her husband died. “All my businesses that was making me earn a living were destroyed during the post-election violence and now am forced to go round washing peoples' clothes to make ends meet. What does the government expect us to do surely,” said Muthoni.