Following the destruction of a school in Katwekera village due to the claim of having a weak structure and the allocation near the Kenya Uganda Railway being the other reason, reminded me of something which I thought had vanished or had been solved. The destruction of Nairobi’s structures which lay near the railway line, structures built in area which are set aside for road reserves, structures build under electricity lines and other public utilities.
The Rift valley railway line which is to be upgraded passes through Kibera. The 5Kms railway line passes from Soweto up to Katwekera on the far north of Kibera. Looking at this keenly if the said demolition was to happen today no other than Kibera dwellers will suffer the most. “The destruction will not only destroy houses but also schools, churches, health centers and meeting halls in Kibera”, says Peter Kamau, a resident who lives in Laini Saba.
Recently the UN-HABITAT in collaboration with the government of Kenya came up with an agreement to help the upgrading program by building decent houses for the residents. It all started at Soweto East where residents where located to the new houses in Lang’ate although some residents claim that the allocation was not fair and square. Apart from these the upgrading program has come to an halt due to some government’s bad planning and consultation. All what can be seen is the tarnac road from the Highrise fly-over to the bridge near Undugu playing grounds, barely a kilometer since the construction was started some years ago. All these good intentions have been marred with bad plans to the residents of informal settlement – FORCED EVICTION.
A warning which had been issues by the Rift-Valley Railway co-operations to the people who are living near the railway line claims that ‘One should not be within 100 feet of either side of the railway line’. A group of people living by the railway line have filed a case in the High court to protest the forceful eviction from their locations or the government to find alternative ways to settle the evicted people.
The NGOs working on land issues and settlement posted a full page on a newspaper a few years ago urging the government to fight slums but not slum dwellers. They had indicated that the procedure to carry out evictions must be followed in a justified manner.
-They should provide notice in time for the residents to prepare themselves.
-They should provide appropriate resettlement in due time for the evicted people.
-They should consult with the affected communities.
Do they know the magnitude or the disastrous effect it would have to displace more than five of thousands residents living next to the railway line in railway upgrading campaign?
The internal displacement which will accompany forced eviction will lead to increased insecurity and violence as the residents will move out to protest the eviction.
Another thing it will lead up to cropping of other new slums anywhere the residents will find to settle as they can not have the funds to build their own decent houses. The destruction will kill or bring to an end many people’s businesses hence creating poverty to hundreds living in Kibera, it might also cause loss of lives if those being evicted resist the eviction.