- The tenants wanted a three-judge bench formed to hear their petition which seeks to stop the Sh6 billion project.
- They say the urban renewal and re-development of old estates within Mombasa county violates their fundamental rights.
The Mombasa county government and Buxton Point Apartments Limited have won the first round of a case seeking to stop them from redeveloping the Buxton estate in Mvita constituency.
The Environment and Land Court in Mombasa dismissed an application filed by 12 Buxton estate tenants seeking to have a three-judge bench formed to hear their petition which seeks to stop the Sh6 billion project.
Julius Chai Mbaru and 11 other residents of Buxton estate say in their September 28 petition that the urban renewal and re-development of old estates within Mombasa county violates their fundamental rights and that the project has not been approved by the National Land Commission.
The NLC had also been roped into the petition as an interested party.
The project seeks to demolish the 520 units currently in the estate and construct 1,500 new apartments. Construction is set for January 2021.
In the suit papers, the petitioners say there was no justification for their eviction following a 90-day notice to vacate.
Mbaru who osthe chairman of the estate’s welfare and the others fear they stand to lose their secure accommodation because the current houses they occupy would be demolished and new ones built and sold at commercial rates.
The petitioners claim they are low-income people and many of them would not have the opportunity or afford to purchase the new houses.
They also claim the whole project had not been approved by the NLC.
“No environmental impact assessment or tenant eviction impact assessment has been done. The project breaches the Public Private Partnership Act of 2013,” Mbaru says in the suit papers.
The petitioners wanted the court to declare that the county government violated the Constitution by giving out public land to Buxton Point Apartments Limited.
They also wanted the court to declare that the Buxton Point Apartments Limited has no capacity to deal with any portion of the 14 acres where Buxton estate stands.
The petitioners sought orders declaring that the county government and the private developer do not have the right to interfere with their continued peaceful living.
They wanted a three-judge bench formed to deal with the petition.
The county and the private developer, however, opposed the three-judge bench application saying the matters raised by the petitioners are ordinary causes of action that the court ordinarily handles.
Justice Munyao Sila in his November 18 ruling said it is common knowledge that there is a shortage of judges.
“There is no need of calling judges from their usual stations and asking them to put aside the cases that they would ordinarily hear for a matter that can very well be heard by a single judge,” Sila said.
Justice Sila said empanelling a bench of three or more judges should therefore be for matters that are fairly exceptional.
“I have taken note of the issues being raised in this case. I do not find them to be uniquely outside the scope of what this court ordinarily does on a day to day basis,” the judge said.
Edited by Henry Makori