LIVELIHOODS THREATENED

Stop demolitions, Kisumu traders urge Nyong'o

Structures in Milimani, Nyalenda, Carwash, Breweries areas brought down.

In Summary

• Traders using makeshift structures on the roadsides, some on alleged sewer lines have been affected by the activity that began in late November.

• Some churches, claimed to be on public land, have also been pulled down.

Lawyer and activist Joshua Nyamori
Lawyer and activist Joshua Nyamori
Image: Faith Matete

Traders in Kisumu have asked Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o to stop any further demolitions of business and other premises to spare their livelihoods.

The government has demolished ‘illegal’ structures in Milimani, Nyalenda, Carwash, Breweries areas to pave the way for the World Bank-funded non-motorised transport project.

Traders using makeshift structures at the roadsides, some on alleged sewer lines have been affected by the activity that began in late November.

Some churches, claimed to be on public land, have also been pulled down.

Civil society organisations, professional and residents have threatened to sue if the county will not stop the destruction of property.

Some say the county government is carrying out the demolitions without consultations and due procedure.

The residents said they all need a clean city with controlled growth, but it should work both for the rich and the poor.

Many of the evicted traders are struggling to find alternative places to sell their wares.  

Mary Anyango told the Star that she has been affected twice by the demolitions.

The first times, the Kenya Railways evicted her from the Winmart area.

"I got another shop in Milimani and we were affected by this recent demolitions by the city management. You are left with nothing and nowhere to start,” she said.

She wondered why traders were being evicted, yet the Uhuru Business Park was still under construction.

Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative executive director George Collins Owour
Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative executive director George Collins Owour
Image: Faith Matete

Lake Region Professional Caucus coordinator Joshua Nyamori said Kenyan laws have clear guidelines on evictions, which have been ignored.

Nyamori said the county had neglected building livelihoods and ensuring that the small businesses are able to get infrastructure.

“The county government would rather build jogging roads as the wares and business of the people are destroyed,” he said.

In Makasembo, four churches are still coming to terms with the demolitions of extensions to their premises on New Year’s Eve.

Most of the structures were rented by students from the nearby national polytechnic.  

"Where do we even start looking for houses?" a student asked.

Boniface Mumbo, a church leader at White Memorial Seventh Day Adventist said they were unsure of their next steps.  

“Right now we don’t know where our members will be; we don’t know where we will worship because all arrangements and preparations for tomorrow were well done,” he said.

Mumbo asked Governor Nyong’o to reconsider his move and engage residents before any demolition.

“We got no notice, just got the information from people that our church is being demolished. We are just requesting if the governor can sort out this matter,” he said.

Besides the SDA church, the Grace Bible Church Kenya was also brought down.  

Church pastor Nicholas Juma said the defunct Kisumu Municipal Council gave them permits to put the structure up.

“There is hue and cry all over. Everybody is crying, not that whatever they are doing is bad but the way they are doing it, in my opinion, is not good,” he said.

Other churches caught in the process were the Jesus Celebrations Centre and Neno Evangelical Centre.

Nyamori said urban development programs must prioritise the needs of the poor, involve them and organise how to undertake the relocation.

“We are warning them that if they cannot come back to negotiate with the stakeholders, we will be forced to petition the World Bank,” he said.

George Owour, executive director at Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative, said what is being planned is against the spirit of citizens.

He said they support urban development programmes but they must benefit all, including the poor.

On Tuesday, city manager Abala Wanga suspended further demolition of kiosks owned by small-scale traders.

The suspension followed a meeting held on Monday at City Hall with traders.

Acting city manager Abala Wanga said in a statement the traders will be relocated to the Sh350 million modern market currently under construction.

(edited by o. owino)