Kibera evictions: Slum residents now move to court

Kibera evictions: Slum residents now move to court

Hundreds of slum residents affected during the Kibera evictions have asked a Nairobi court to stop them from being pushed out of State-owned land.

The move comes a week after authorities demolished the homes of 30,000 people who were living in Kibera slum.

The National Building Inspectorate issued a notice to residents in six Nairobi slums on July 19 warning that their houses would be demolished in August.

“We want them to be given time to move,” said lawyer Soyinka Lempaa, who is representing about 300 slum residents.

“(Evictions) should be done in accordance with the law and as humanely as possible,” said Lempaa, who works with the Katiba Institute rights group.

Moses Nyakiongora, secretary of the National Building Inspectorate, said in a phone interview that people had invaded and built on Kenya Railways and Kenya Power land and resisted efforts to relocate them.

“There is encroachment with impunity, even where orders have been given,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People live very dangerously, even near railways and power lines, and when something happens they claim compensation from government. We need to do something now.”

International law regards forced eviction as a gross violation of human rights, regardless of whether or not the land was occupied legally, as it can push people deeper into poverty.

Kenyan law says people illegally occupying public land should only be evicted after receiving three months notice.

However, it does not oblige the government to offer them alternative housing, the advocacy group Amnesty International says.

Thousands of shanties were bulldozed last week during the Kibera evictions to make way for a road.

Amnesty International said the Kibera evictions left 30,000 residents homeless, highlighting the difficulties faced by poor people living in slums as African cities expand rapidly.

About half of Africa’s 470 million city residents live in informal settlements, a figure that is expected to rise as the World Bank predicts the continent’s urban population will double to 1 billion people by 2040.

Kenya’s rail and power companies own huge tracts of land nationwide as safety buffers where their lines pass and for future expansion, although much of it has been encroached on.