19 July 2012

Kenya: 1,000 Squatters Left in the Cold As Houses Demolished

About 1,000 people squatting on a government trust land in Kwa Vonza location in Kitui County have been rendered homeless following demolition of their abode by local police.

During the demolitions to push out the squatters to pave way for the expansion of the Kitui Kenyatta University campus property worth millions of shillings was destroyed when the over 300 houses were flattened on Monday.

The operation that was spearheaded by the local chief and the police left at least 1000 people without shelter, food or a livelihood. It was the culmination of a long standing legal battle between the locals on one side, and the Kitui County Council and Kenyatta University on the other. The dispute over the ownership of the 400 acres of land ended up in court where and order was issued authorizing the demolition.

But residents who spoke to newsmen said that that their predicaments resulted from their failure bto remit Sh 300 tenancy fee to a Chief. They claimed they have a right to occupy the land since they had lived there for the last 20 years. According to Dr Mulwa Ndana, a lecturer at Kenyatta University but who is against the move, said it was unfair to cause massive damage to property in the name of expanding educational facilities.He said it would have been prodent to consider the plight of the local populace.

Alocal community leaders Wnnie Syombua who is also a local women leader, termed the act by the government as saddening, adding that this was the result of accumulated years of bad leadership in the county of Kitui. The squatters have expressed concerns over their health, citing the biting night cold and lack of food and water. They are also expressed concern about the fate of their children who have not been able to attend school since their homes were demolished.

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