Forced evictions have become city’s quiet war
Earlier this month, the residents of Deep Sea slum in Westlands, were dealt a nasty blow when a fire razed the settlement, rendering at least 200 homeless.
But this is not the only challenge that this settlement has faced. 10,000 residents of Deep Sea have been served an eviction notice by a private developer in spite of the slum being 60 years old.
Nairobi is a product of British colonisation, it was created initially to meet the demands of Uganda Railway construction. It was not designed with considerations of a residential space for Nairobi’s Africans, who could not own land and only settled where they could.
This insecurity continues today. About half the city population live in slums and informal settlements, many of those have inherited their houses over many generations.
Eviction is a huge fear that affects at least the 2.7 million people living in urban semi-permanent settlements. Currently, data from the Lands ministry suggests that 60,000 people face eviction in Nairobi today.
But how fair are these evictions? I am concerned about the ways used to get people off such lands.
I came across a video on MaVulture.com, interviewing a construction worker who states that they tied a petroleum dipped rope onto a cat and lit it before putting the animal into a house in Mathare slum to spread a fire through homes where a developer needed the land to be cleared.
When residents sought to rebuild they were told the land belonged to someone else.
There are also questions on how some parcels of land get suddenly acquired by developers.
For example, 18,000 residents of Mitumba slum along Mombasa Road were ordered to vacate by private developers and the Kenya Airports Authority even though the settlement was established in 1979 when the land belonged to the Government.
No one should have to deal with this kind of insecurity and we can only hope the National Land Council gives a clear account of its agenda in the city.