BY SAM ALFAN.
The High Court has dismissed application filed by thirteen tenants of Nairobi County County Government who sought to stop demolition of their houses located in Pangani estate.
“The application dated July 2, 2019 is dismissed for want of prosecution,” ordered the judge. This was after the tenants lawyer failed to appear in court to argue the case as directed.
Environment and Land Court judge Kossy Bor declined to issue orders, paving way for the county government to demolish the houses.
“The court had fixed the matter for hearing today at 7:30 am after plaintiffs informed the court that demolition were to place on the end of July. The plaintiffs advocate does not attend court to prosecute the application,” said the judge.
The County government under the urban housing renewal and regeneration policy wishes to redevelop, renew, refurbish and renovate “old estates” in Nairobi city.
Governor Sonko’s administration has identified Pangani Estate for the project where the plaintiffs live as tenants ad one the estates to be redeveloped.
Among estates identified by the county government include bachelor’s, Jeevanjee Estate, Ngong road Estate, Old Ngara Estate, Pangani Estate, Uhuru Estate and New Ngara.
The county government intends to construct high density multi-storey flats consisting of 24 floors of cluster of one bedroom , two bedroom and three bedroom each and there will be four blocks. The proposed units are 1152.
“It is evident that the units will thus house families exceeding 1,500 where the plaintiffs claim they have not been consulted over proposed construction.
” The principal of proportionality (with respect) disentitles the plaintiffs of the reliefs they seek. I believe that they can be adequately compensated by damages in the face of the housing hardship facing many Kenyans residents in Nairobi County,” added the county.
The county said the project did not commence this year as implied by one of the tenant’s Jushua Murkinnie Amaswache.
The tenants allege that there was no public participation.
Other tenants include John Kaumbuthu, George Magore, Ramesh Rajput, Aisha Mohammed, Lena Katu, Mohammed Waiss, Amit Ghosh, Pascal Misawa, Yaya Omar, Nick Koto, Jack Onyango and Josephine Muthui.
The thirteen moved to court seeking to stop the County from evicting, attempting to evict or interfering with their occupation of the houses in Pangani Estate pending hearing and determination the case.
They claimed they have lived in the said houses since 1956 and they are not in rent default.
The County, however in its response denied existence of some tenants on it records.
The tenants claimed a key component of the urban renewal policy is that there must be public participation in the process of renewal and regeneration with the constitution and affected parties and citizen must be given opportunity ( especially those to be removed and be resettled).
But the county government, they argued, wish to evict them without their agreement as to the terms of the eviction or resettlement.
They claimed the county government does not want to incorporate their suggestions into the agreement but want them to vacate on the terms dictated by the county government.
The judge directed the matter to be mentioned before deputy registrar for pretrial directions.