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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 9 November 2014


Retirees who had put all their money into rental houses in Kibera slum are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to rein in his Devolution minister Anne Waiguru and save them from further losses occasioned by brutish demolitions. Speaking to Weekly Citizen, the elders some who are blind from age said that despite their complaints and suggestions that residents be consulted when such demolitions are done, they are forced to pull down their houses without the government showing those affected where to go. The elderly Nubians asked UN to intervene and have the demolitions stopped forthwith until the government finds an alternative place for them.
The houses are being demolished to pave way for the construction of roads within the slum but the elders say roads are not their priority and see the projects as a gimmick by powerful people in government to grab their land “like is happening in Karen”.
The project that some experts in urban planning have questioned are seen by other residents as a ruse by certain people in government to justify the expenditure of a Sh22.2billion the NYS reportedly got from the Chinese. Last week, Mashimoni area was a scene of agony as families pulled down houses before the arrival of NYS bulldozers. When residents asked the NYS people where they would take their families, they were rudely told to wait for the roads to be completed and then rebuild their houses which makes one wonder how you can put up a house on tarmac.
But it is the toilets project that has left many unanswered questions. For instance, who will be taking care of the Waiguru toilets once they are complete? With reports that the toilets will be used at a fee, residents say that they will revert to flying toilets because not many can afford to pay a fee to answer a call of nature. Currently slum dwellers use pit latrines that are emptied by privately owned waste exhausters some hand-pulled. The toilets are owned by the slumlords and are free for use so long as one is a tenant in the respective plot. It is against this background that residents are seeing as an extra burden the Waiguru toilets.
The new toilets will be connected to the main sewer line and residents say this will be unaffordable given that they will need over 10 litres of water to flush every time they answer a call. This in a slum where a household uses an average of 20 litres a day! Had Waiguru done her homework, residents say, she would have discovered that tissue paper is a luxury in Kibera and dwellers use newspapers and cartons which will result to daily blockages of the toilets. The way to upgrade Kibera, locals say, is to do it in phases with highrise buildings that will occupy a small space with residents moving in the new houses to pave way for construction of highrises where they move out of. To merely construct toilets as many outsiders have done in the past only for the toilets to fall into disrepair is too cosmetic a scheme.
Had Waiguru been sincerely meant to make a difference to the people of Kibera, a youthful dweller said, she would have used the Chinese money to construct public study halls for the children of Kibera to use when outside school because there is no conducive atmosphere for them to study in their crumped-up houses.
Meanwhile, some local youth who have been hired to work in the projects are now complaining that there are fishy goings-on at the Kibera youth office. According to the youth, they were forced to sign a form without reading it by a one Mrs Opar who heads the youth office and now claim that they are supposed to be paid Sh700 per day and not the Sh250 they are getting. The difference, they claim is shared between some people at the deputy commissioner’s office and NYS people.
Because of the low pay, the youth are dumping the garbage they collect at the nearest point to the road from where they collect it. At Makina, they pile the garbage on the pavement along Kibera Drive putting to risk the lives of pedestrians who have to walk onto the road to circumnavigate the polythene bags oozing filth. When pedestrians complain, the youth say they are paid only enough to reach there and tell the pedestrians to go and tell Opar to do the rest.