Kenya: Rights Groups Demand Justice for Pangani Residents After Forceful Eviction

Nairobi — It was debris to debris, dust to dust as bulldozers pounced on the remaining apartments of what used to be Pangani estate, to pave way for the construction of new affordable and descent houses.

One after the other, the few blocks were reduced to rubble by the roaring bulldozers as the remaining tenants raced against time, to salvage what they could.

"What about the doors?" one tenants would be heard asking over the phone. It was too late.

But the thick cloud of dust that went up on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, when the evictions started has refused to settle despite loads of explanations from Nairobi County officials led by Governor Mike Sonko who declared he has "no regrets" for ordering the demolition.

"Why did they raid the estate at midnight," this remains the most asked question, by both tenants and right groups.

On Wednesday, three human rights groups weighed in on the debate, saying the dignity of Pangani estate residents was defiled.

And while Sonko insists there was a notice served to them, the rights groups said, "it was only a verbal order."

Haki Jamii, Pamoja Trust and Inuka Kenya now want the County Government to ensure all tenants are accorded "just and fair compensation."

"This country is governed by the rule of law and according to the law, evictions should not have taken place at night, it should have been preceded by the proper identification of those taking part in the demolitions; presentation of the formal authorizations for the action; be carried in a manner that respects the dignity, right to life and security of those affected, include special measures to ensure effective protection to groups and people who are vulnerable such as women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities."

Samuel Olando, from Haki Jamii urged Governor Sonko to ensure decorum is upheld during the implementation of other proposed projects.

The county said it plans to put up about 1,500 affordable houses on the parcel of land.

Under the County Comprehensive Urban Renewal Programme, the County Government plans to construct 100,000 new housing units in Nairobi to meet the ever-growing demand for affordable housing, in a city with more than 5 million residents, according to the 2009 census.

Other than Pangani, other estates earmarked for a facelift include Bahati, Mbotela, Ziwani, Makongeni, Kaloleni, Jericho and Shauri Moyo.

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