• 20,000 new housing units to be developed under the Big Four Agenda.
• Tenants say KCPE and KCSE candidates will suffer due to displacement.
Police and county security officers in Eldoret clashed with tenants occupying county houses who are being forced out to pave the way for affordable units.
The officers used tear gas to disperse the tenants who responded with stones and engaged the security teams in running battles. Pregnant women, the elderly and children were forced to flee for their lives.
The Uasin Gishu government has begun evicting tenants from its houses to make room for construction of Sh50 billion affordable units under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
Armed officers and county askaris on Tuesday kicked out about 400 tenants from Macharia estate. They had defied notices to vacate. The dilapidated county houses will be demolished.
More than 5,000 families will be evicted in eight estates to create space for 20,000 new affordable housing units. The tenants used whatever means possible to carry away their belongings, fearing destruction by bulldozers brought in by the county government to flatten the old houses.
“This is too brutal. We thought the county would be humane enough if all this is actually about improving housing for Kenyans,” Jane Kibet, a tenant, said.
Affordable housing is one of the pillars of President Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda. Others are manufacturing, affordable healthcare and food security.
Other estates earmarked for demolition to allow for the construction of 14-story buildings are Mayabi, Uhuru, Kamabi, St Mary, Kodhek and Kilimani. Tenants in the houses have complained about insufficient time given to them to move out.
“We have made all efforts to have the county address many of our concerns before moving in to remove us but we have been completely ignored,” said Protencia Nabwire, the spokesperson of the tenants.
She said they had lived in the houses for long and their views should have been considered.
“Many of us have lived here for more than two decades and the county did not give us notice”, she claimed.
Nabwire said they pleaded to be allowed to live in the houses until December but the county government ignored them. She said many children expected to sit for national exams soon will suffer because of the displacement of the families.
The estates have more than 400 KCPE and KCPE candidates who are among those displaced. Some of the tenants remained stranded in the area with nowhere to go after the evictions.
“We would have easily moved out of the houses without such eviction chaos if we have agreed with the county on a civilized way to deal with this matter,” said another tenant, Mike Namnaba.
Nelson Maritim, Uasin Gishu executive for Lands, Housing and Physical Planning, defended the eviction saying that the tenants were given enough time to prepare to move out of the houses.
He said the county government has been addressing concerns raised by the tenants since last year but the affected families have been ignoring orders to vacate.