Demolitions on Kangundo Road reduce businesses to rubble

Godowns, construction materials and machines valued at millions of shillings were all destroyed.

Residents and business owners along Kangundo Road on Saturday morning took to the streets to protest against demolition of their property.

Several businesses and houses all the way to Manyanja Road were brought down during the operation conducted in the wee hours of Friday.

“It is absurd that the President [Uhuru Kenyatta] can launch businesses and projects at night while ours are destroyed,” one trader decried.

The demolitions conducted by the government are aimed at reclaiming public land grabbed by private developers.

The traders at the Kang’undo construction yard were alerted by security guards about the arrival of bulldozers at the site at 3am on Saturday.

“We waited from 4am to rush to the site only to find most of the buildings already demolished,” said a trader.

What is left of a business premise on Kangundo road after night demolition.

What is left of a business premise on Kangundo road after night demolition.
What is left of a business premise on Kangundo road after night demolition./Cyrus Ombati

Godowns, construction materials and plants valued at millions of shillings were all destroyed in the early morning demolition.

The trades who said they had been operating at the yard for more than 10 years claimed there was no prior notice to the demolitions which caught them off guard.

“Most of us did not have time to salvage our property. We have lost so much. We were totally caught off guard as we never received prior notice to vacate,” the businessman said.

Traffic flow was disrupted as the protesters blocked sections of the road on Saturday.

“Traffic at the Kangúndo road near Saika-Mowlem junction is in a standstill. Parts of the road have been blocked,” said Valentine Kimiti, a resident.

Demolition on Kangundo Road on Saturday July 10
Demolition on Kangundo Road on Saturday July 10/CYRUS OMBATI

The devastated residents lit tires on the road near Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital rendering the route impassable. Travellers were forced to seek alternative routes.

The land is contested by traders who were accused of illegally settling in the area and government agencies.

Demolitions have been carried out in phases since 2018. In 2020, a notice was issued to 600 residents of Embakasi to vacate after Kenya Power convinced the High Court that they had encroached on its power line way-leave.

Last year in May, about 5,000 residents of Kariobangi North were left homeless after the government flattened their homes to repossess grabbed land for the Dandora sewerage plant.

The Nairobi City County Evictions, Resettlement and Demolitions Control Bill, 2020 proposes that demolition of unauthorised structures in the capital should be carried out within the regular working hours, between Monday and Friday.

“The implementation of this Act shall be guided with protection from arbitrary evictions, protection and enforcement of fundamental freedoms and rights,” the bill reads.

The bill, which has already gone through its first reading in the assembly, says the unauthorised occupant shall be given at least 14 days to vacate the land or premises.

The owner of private land shall prior to filing a suit for eviction give written notice of at least three months before the date of the intended eviction.

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