Twenty Malindi families got a rude shock yesterday morning when they were awakened by the rumbling and crashing of bulldozers tearing down their rental houses.
They scrambled to get their children and belongings out before police brought down the buildings in Ngalla estate at 3am. The police said they were executing a court order and the land the buildings stood on belongs to the ministry of Housing.
Police first demolished a nursery school before moving a one-storey building, then another with self-contained rooms and a third that was still under construction.
The tenants said they were not given notice to vacate. But a senior policeman leading the operation said, “The land belongs to the National housing Corporation. Orders were issued since late last year for the people to vacate but they failed to honour it.”
why at 3am?
The building owners said there was no court order for them to move out. They blamed landgrabbing tycoons hiding behind the NHC. Some appeared anguished as they watched their investments being destroyed.
Swaleh Khadir, who owned the multi-storey building, said he received a call from his tenants at 5am. “They told me my house was being demolished. I have a title deed and have lived here without any court battle,” he said.
Martin Ndapatani and his mother owned the other rental building and the nursery school. He said they have been to court but have never received any demolition orders.
Last year they received information about the orders, but when they made a follow-up no information was forthcoming. “All these problems began after the death of my father, but we know there are tycoons behind this,” Ndapatani said.
Twaher Abdulkharim, a local leader, condemned the demolition and asked why police had to do it at night, without any notice to the owners and the tenants. He threatened to sue on behalf of the property owners.
The police cordoned off the area as some tenants moved their belongings, while others remained stranded outside the buildings.