Kenya: Sonko Defends Pangani Demolitions, Dismisses Reports Evictions Were Inhumane

Nairobi — Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has defended the eviction of tenants from houses owned by Nairobi County in Pangani Estate.

City Hall moved to demolish the houses Monday night to pave way for the construction of modern low-cost apartments, Sonko dismissing claims that the move was inhumane.

Governor Sonko on Tuesday said all tenants in the estate had been compensated and served notice to vacate.

As a result, the Governor said he has no apologies to make over demolitions, but did not explain why the raid was done at night - at the point when many residents had retreated to sleep.

In a statement posted on his social media platforms, Sonko said the County has since compensated the tenants with Sh600, 000 to relocate to other areas, pending completion of the affordable houses.

"The court did not issue any orders restraining us from starting this project. Since we had served them with notices. We have no regrets or apologies to make. However, our offer still stands, and I hereby again repeat myself that all the old tenants shall be the first ones to occupy the new units. They are all landlords in waiting," he said.

The project, which he said was meant to kick off on 2016 but stalled due to what he termed as bad politics, will see some new 1,588 houses constructed.

Governor Sonko said an agreement is in place to ensure the evicted tenants will be the first to acquire and occupy the new houses.

He refuted claims by a section of the tenants that there was a court order restraining the City Hall from reclaiming the parcel of land where the Pangani estate demolished Monday night is located.

"The likes of senior citizens like Mzee Gitu Kahengere and many other God-fearing tenants who cannot lie complied with the agreement and vacated the houses but there are those who after taking the money refused to vacate and instead took the county Government to court even after showing them all this goodwill," the Governor lamented.

Pangani is one of the estates set to undergo a full makeover in plans by Governor Sonko's administration to support President Uhuru Kenyatta's affordable housing plan under the Big Four Agenda.

"These contracts were signed during the previous administration, but nothing was implemented because of the bad leadership that was there," he said.

Tenants who spoke to Capital FM News on Tuesday expressed disappointment with the manner in which the evictions were done but did not express any resistance against the project being implemented.

Many, including children and the aged, were flushed out of their houses as county officials accompanied by rowdy youths undertook the demolitions.

They dismantled window grills and flattened most of the servant quotas. The main apartments were rendered inhabitable.

On May 9, Governor Sonko said all the residents will be allocated with an apartment at a cost of Sh3 million, payable within a 30-year period.

"In addition, my administration has issued to each of the 48 tenants a cheque of Sh600,000 as rent to wherever they'll move to for the 2-year construction period," he said.

Under the County Comprehensive Urban Renewal Programme, the City Government plans to construct 100,000 new housing units.

This is meant to meet the ever-growing demand for affordable housing, in a city with more than 5 million residents.

Apart from Pangani, other estates targeting for a facelift include Bahati, Mbotela, Ziwani, Makongeni, Kaloleni, Jericho and Shauri Moyo in the Eastlands part of the city.

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