INHUMAN EVICTIONS STOPPED

State halts Kariobangi North demolitions after uproar

Governemnt stops further demolitions in Kariobangi North but insists sewer project will proceed , in fear that donors funding the project would withdraw

In Summary

• Residents from Kariobangi and Dandora had held protests against the closure of the market.

• The trenches which were dug at the entrance of the market were blocking the public and food trucks from accessing the food market.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi (centre) chairing a closed door meeting with State Officers and Nairobi leaders on May 8, 2020.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi (centre) chairing a closed door meeting with State Officers and Nairobi leaders on May 8, 2020.
Image: COURTESY

The National Government has suspended further demolitions at Kariobangi North Estate.

The decision was made in a closed-door meeting chaired by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i on Friday.

A source who attended the meeting told the Star on Friday evening that it was agreed that no further demolitions will take place.

More than 5,000 residents from Kariobangi North were left homeless following the demolitions which took place on Monday.

The exercise was conducted by the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company to reclaim.

However, the government will proceed with its planned sewer project in the affected area.

“The project is funded by donors and stopping the project may see the donor pull out and that is what the government fears,” the source said.

The sewer project is aimed at boosting the city’s capacity to treat water by over 55 per cent.

At the moment, the capacity is said to be below 40 per cent.

Demolitions in Kariobangi North on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Demolitions in Kariobangi North on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

In attendance during the meeting was Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, his counterpart for Water Sicily Kariuki, a section Nairobi Leaders led by Senator Johnson Sakaja among other state officials.

Matiang’i took to Twitter to post, “My colleagues CS Mutahi Kagwe, Sicily Kariuki and I held a discussion this morning with Nairobi elected leaders on strategies to improve community participation and cooperation with government in the fight against Covid-19."

Also, the state officials agreed that Korogocho market will be reopened after it was closed due to construction.

Residents from Kariobangi and Dandora had held protests against the closure of the market.

The trenches which were dug at the entrance of the market were blocking the public and food trucks from accessing the food market.

The demolitions two weeks after the government reclaimed 1,600 acres in Ruai that had been set aside for the expansion of the Dandora Treatment Plant.

The exercise was carried out despite a court order.

The demolition of structures, however, caused an uproar from legislators, especially from the Senate stating that it was inhumane as the country is battling the spread of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, the Water ministry defended its move to repossess its land in Kariobangi North, saying it will set up a modern wastewater recycling plant on the parcel.

The ministry, in a statement, on Thursday said the land is public and was not set aside for allocation.

"The Kariobangi treatment plant was initially designed to treat 32,000 cubic metres of wastewater daily," it said.

This capacity has significantly declined to 11,000 cubic metres per day, with illegal and unlawful occupation being the single-most contributory factor.

The ministry said almost half of the 75 acres initially earmarked for the facility had been occupied by squatters and private developers, hence rendering maintenance activities difficult.

According to the ministry, the Kariobangi treatment plant was initially designed to treat 32,000 cubic metres of wastewater daily.

However, the capacity is said to have significantly declined to 11,000 cubic metres per day, with illegal and unlawful occupation being the single-most contributory factor.

Despite the decision to halt further demolitions, the evicted families are still spending nights in the cold with many lacking an alternative place and capability to rebuild new homes.