And Then They Came For Me

Guest Writer
16 September ,2014

by Asha Jaffar

“I have been living in Kibera for 34 years. I’m now moved to an 8×8 room with my family.”

Victim of the demolition

It has always been happening.

I can’t remember when it started but it’s been going on for very long and I’m tired of it. It gets tiring having your homes destroyed in the name of development. It gets very tiring.

Development, injustice and the courts are the three things here. These are the things Kenya needs to redefine. Or, at least, try to understand.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The beginning, as always, is a question: Why are projects passed through Kibera without ever being for Kibera? The railway, the southern bypass – these passed through us (residents of Kibera). We have received no benefits from these programmes. Our homes have been destroyed. Our roads are still bad. Our schools and hospitals are struggling. This is the development I’m waiting to hear about. Instead they brought more bulldozers.

“The prime duty of the police is to maintain law and order. It’s such a shame when they become an accomplice in protecting goons.”

Ezra Randy

In 2009, after a few months in government allocated housing near Langata Women’s Prison, many families moved back to Kibera – they could not afford the rent.

On 12th January 2012, under the guise of upgrading slums, many of them were rendered homeless. Despite a court injunction staying the demolitions for another five days, their homes were destroyed.

No one spoke about this.

“I am a firm believer that the National Land Policy and Evictions and Resettlement bill is adopted.”

Dan Orogo

Still in 2012, more houses were brought down to pave way for the Southern bypass. The bypass would stretch from Mombasa Road, past Ole Sereni Hotel to Langata Road, through the Nairobi National Park and move through Kibera to join the Nairobi – Nakuru highway at Rironi, near Limuru. The government promised to compensate the National Park but has said nothing about the Kibera residents whose houses were demolished.

Who will speak for us?

“Will the government come up with another act like of the national park and compensate the people whose houses have been demolished?

Will the government give the people another land given that it has taken from them what they used to call home?”

Voice Of Kibera

I saw it all. On the morning of 8th September 2014, we got a call from one of the women living around the Railway area-42. She told us that houses were being demolished. They did not even give people time to salvage their belongings. Construction company H-Young was contracted by Kenya Railways to demolish houses. This was stopped after residents went to court, buying time until the case is heard on 14th October 2014.

This didn’t stop H-Young as they tried to demolish the houses in August 2014. The community resisted them and they had to leave. In September, hired goons came and demolished the houses. H-Young has not officially accepted that they were behind the recent demolitions, but they have not denied it either. We strongly suspect it was them.

Daniel Nguka, one of the people responsible for the demolition, was arrested after we made a lot of noise on Twitter last week. He was charged with robbery with violence but was later released on bond. Who does Daniel represent? Who is he working for? Why did he take charge in demolishing houses?

“I was battered and harassed.  I am pregnant but they did not have any mercy. They stepped on my stomach and currently I don’t know if I might have complications regarding my pregnancy.”

One of the victims

11,000 families are to be moved by Kenya Railways, starting this September, from Kibera and Mukuru. How can Kenya Railways go against a court order?  How can they go against the agreements they made with the people living along the railways regarding compensation? More importantly, how can they do all this without consequence?

Petition no. 239-Milimani Court: –




Upon reading the application presented to this court on 3oth July 2014 by counsel for the petition under Article 23(3) 9C of the constitution of Kenya and rules 23 and 24 of the constitution of Kenya (Protection of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) High court practice and procedure rules 2013, AND UPON READING the supporting Affidavits of KEPHA ONJOUR sworn on 22nd May 2014 together with annexures thereto AND UPON HEARING counsel for the petitioners counsel for the 2nd respondent and counsel for the 1st respondent.


THAT mention for further directions and orders on 14th October,2014
THAT in the meantime status quo be maintained.

We took to Twitter to tell our story (under the hashtag #kiberademolitions) because that was the only way we thought the world would listen. It worked. We  got our M.P. to call on Kenya Railways and stop the demolitions. After countless tweets and texts, Kilimani police station sent 9 policemen who arrested the people who were demolishing those houses.  They were charged then released on bail. We are now trying to get our M.P., Ken Okoth, to table this issue in parliament

“The corporation received a Sh 3.9 billion ($45 million) loan from the World Bank for constructing alternative housing units for affected families.”

Business Daily

Many of the families I spoke to had their names removed from the list of the affected persons and were calling upon the M.P. to ask the World Bank to provide the enumeration list that was done in 2010. They were also asking for a new transparent enumeration process.

The World Bank has rules and regulations on how to deal with people. Every single thing we have seen here breaks those rules. Compensation was agreed upon – it did not happen. Still, the World Bank backs this project.

“It has taken along time for the Kenya Railway Corporation and Pamoja Trust to implement the relocation project of the people living and doing businesses along the railway line in Kibera,the process involved a very high level of consultations with all the stake holders involved.

The new buildings built around Jamhuri to accommodate the replaced individuals better referred to as Project Affected Persons (PAPS) has raised more heat, Kibera residents are feeling short changed since most of what they see are not as per the agreement in the Relocation Action Plan Document (RAP)so they have convened 4 meetings to engage the Pamoja Trust and Kenya Railway demanding for explanation.”

Voice Of Kibera

Kenya Railways never attended the aforementioned meeting, or any other for that matter. We have tried to meet with them repeatedly, and they have postponed the meeting for the fourth time now.

This campaign, like the issue, is on-going. We are not done. We are currently fundraising for the ten families affected. We are still looking to meet Kenya Railways. We will still go to court. It’s always been happening.

It needs to stop.

Asha Jaffar is a writer, poet and activist who believes that speaking is the only thing that’s going to help us change the world. Follow her on Twitter @AshaJaffar and follow/support her cause at #kiberademolitions

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