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All Set to Move, Long journey to the 'Promised Land' kicks off

  • Location Soweto East
  • Date Dec 3 2009
  • Time 12:00
  • Category Kibera Journal   
  • Incident Incident
  • Nearby Incident Nearby Incident

Incident Report Description

The relocation of shanty inhabitants to the estate rekindled the memories of the residents who had hoped of owning descent houses in Nairobi. Many had negative perception about the initiative that could see Soweto East-Kibera residents own homes. To others, things were normal and received the idea with positive applause.

The residents who had negative attitudes adopted “a seeing is believing” phenomenon and even declined to make savings with the cooperatives that were initiated to enhance them own the houses that would be constructed in Soweto East.

Many thought Langata decanting site was the final destination. There is a long journey to be covered. The relocation was indeed the threshold of a long journey to owning descent houses. Some of the residents relocated had different views about the new life in a new environment.

According to Murumba Lawrence, who is a father of one, life will never be the same again. His relocation into new, clean storey houses was God-send. He says he is now living comfortably where basic needs like water, toilet and electricity are almost “free”. “Life here is very economical. I was paying house rent of Kshs 1,200 for a single room excluding water and electricity. Now I pay Shs 3,000 for three rooms of which water and electricity are all inclusive, this is almost free,” commented Murumba. Another occupant who declined to be named said life in the new environment was comfortable compared to where they had come from. A father of five said: “I had to pay Kshs 5 every time a member of my family visited a toilet.

Two occupants who had opened kiosks outside their block said it is their catch since a big percentage depended on their stock. They said the previous site was flooded with kiosks making fewer sales.

However, to some, life at the site was unbearable. Omolo said the resettlement was the initial stage in sending him to upcountry. Omolo, 53, said he acquired three rooms of which he couldn’t account for. He added, by the time he filled the forms he had a family of five but since then, his wife had divorced him leaving him with no child. He now depends on odd jobs for upkeep. His landlord evicted him after realising that he could no longer meet the cost of a monthly rent of Kshs 400.

Also on the list is a father of three who feared things might not go well for him. At 40, he had no stable income to pay house rent of Kshs 3,000 for three rooms acquired, despite water and electricity being provided. “I was paying Kshs 600 for house rent, now I have to add Shs 2,400 for rent, which is too much. My net salary is Kshs 6,000, how will I manage Kshs 3,000?” he laments.

Other residents had accused those bestowed with responsibility to relocate for applying double standards in the selection of those to move to the new site. They said, they were qualified but had been left out when their time was due.

On the other side, human rights actors had argued that Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (Kensup) approach did not consider many other factors. The short listed factors were the owners of informal schools, informal businesses, water kiosk vendors, among others. Sources had confirmed that the relocation process was temporarily stopped due to lack of funds to finance the transportation. according to one of the committee member incharge of relocation, one trip costs Kshs. 500 000. He said there was immense corruption since Lorries were claimed to have been hired but no transportation was done.

Since then hundreds of families have been confirmed relocated.

In what was seen as the beginning of a tireless journey to end slums in the country, Prime Minister Raila Odinga had said the initiative was aimed at improving the infrastructure in the Kenyan urban settlements. Raila said the ultimate goal was to improve access to basic services and will be replicated in other parts of the country.

He said only residents who would have saved a minimum of Shs 80,000 in the already formed co-operatives would be eligible to own houses. The prime minister expressed his views that the residents had perceived the Government as part of the problems but not solution due to inconsistent promises.

He said construction work would have started the next day but was deterred by a court injunction against demolition of the structures to pave way for the construction of descent houses. He was speaking at an open ground opposite the relocation site during the commissioning of new houses.
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