30,000 evicted from Nairobi’s largest slum to make room for highway

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Onlookers watch as bulldozers demolish houses to make way for a new road in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Pupils from two primary schools are among at least 30,000 residents forced out of Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, to make way for a new, wider $20 million highway.

Onlookers watch as bulldozers demolish houses to make way for a new road in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Makina Self-help Primary School and Adventure Pride Centre were the first to go. Egesa Children’s Centre, a children’s home, followed.

Officers drawn from various security agencies patrolled the slum as bulldozers rolled in at dawn to begin bringing down down the structures.

The residents – given just two weeks notice to leave – watched helplessly.

Monday’s eviction was similar to incidents earlier in 2018 in the Kawanagare and City Carton neighborhoods.  City leaders have also demolished several makeshift open markets throughout Nairobi, saying in each case residents and merchants were there illegally.

Kibera residents filed two legal challenges to block demolition but a judge ruled the expected four lane highway that will replace their homes was in the public’s best interest.

Authorities say the new roadway will ease the traffic in the west of the city.

Later Monday morning, after the bulldozers completed their work, Kibera residents returned to their former homes, sat beside their belongings and began crying out in anguish.

A man stands on the rubbles of his home after bulldozers demolished dozens of houses to make way for a new road in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

“We were raised here, we went to school here and we got married here. Now we don’t know where to go,” Jacqueline Anzemo, a 30-year-old mother-of three who has lived in Kibera for 16 years, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Arthur Shakwira was also watching as the area he has called home for more than two decades, was flattened.

“I’ve taken my belongings to a neighbour. My wife and kids have moved to my brother’s place to stay there for the time being. I don’t know where to start from,” he told the news agency.

“We’ve not refused for the road to pass but they need to consider our wellbeing.”

Catharine Kamiri collects wood from the rubbles of her home after bulldozers demolished dozens of houses to make way for a new road in the Kibera slum in Nairobi. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Amnesty International Executive Director for Kenya Irũngũ Houghton condemned the demolitions and added the actions “betray” a deal made to agree a resettlement plan before evicting the residents.

The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) says there will be no compensation for the residents as the land belongs to government. But KURA Communication Officer, John Cheboi said the agency will provide some assistance in helping people relocate.

 

 

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