13 December 2018

Kenya Railways Barred From Evicting Squatters on Mombasa Land

Squatters in Bangladesh, Kwa Punda and Birikani in Mombasa were reprieved on Thursday by a court's decision to bar Kenya Railways Corporation from giving their land to a transport company.

Justice Anne Omollo, of the Environment and Land Court, issued conservatory orders retraining KRC from granting possession of the un-surveyed land in Bangladesh to Sibed Transport Company, pursuant to a purported lease agreement.


The judge also restrained the company from evicting the residents or interfering with use of the land as a playground and a collection point for water distributed to them.

The orders will stand until a case by Father Gabriel Dolan is determined.

Fr Dolan sued KRC and the transport company on behalf of the squatters, saying the corporation denied the people the right to acquire the land to secure their economic and social rights.

Lawyer Francis Mwakireti told the court that the priest, on behalf of the residents, requested the KRC in 2009 to allocate them the land for purposes of building a secondary school.

According to the petitioner, KRC rejected the request in a letter, on grounds that the land had been sold.

"There has been interest and purported engagements between the County Government of Mombasa and the Bangladesh community in respect to acquiring the land to build a high school in line with public interest," Fr Dolan's application states.


Mr Mwakireti further argues that in October, Father Dolan found out that the corporation leased the land to the transport company despite its contention in 2009 that the land had already been sold.

He says the KRC acted arbitrarily - without following procedures set out in the Constitution, the KRC Act and the State Corporation Act.

The petitioner says that on October 8, the chief of Birikani sub-location summoned some residents at the behest of the transport company to appear in her office on allegations of trespassing. They were reportedly asked to leave.

Fr Dolan says the transport company started putting up a perimeter wall around so it is likely that the people will be evicted and caused to suffer irreparable damage.

Fr Dolan, an Executive Director of Haki Yetu organisation, further says in his affidavit says that the land is also used for public meetings.

He wants a declaration that the allocation of the land by the KRC to the transport company, and the purported lease agreement, were unconstitutional, illegal, null and void from the beginning.

Fr Dolan also wants the corporation directed to obtain the consent of the lands minister to surrender the land for the construction of the school.

Fr Dolan's case will be heard on February 11.


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