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Moi Airport neighbours defy eviction orders

Families living around the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, who face eviction, have protested at the manner in which the Mombasa County Government is handling the matter.

They vowed to stay put until they are given details of the move.

Last year, Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa wrote to the National Land Commission (NLC) recommending the evictions, citing the risk of terrorism to the airport.

“Continued inhabitation and mushrooming of structures adjacent to the airport can be exploited by terrorists as potential hideouts and launch sites for attacks targeting airport facilities, aircraft and passengers,” Mr Marwa said in his November 18, 2015, letter.

Besides residential houses, there are schools and mosques earmarked for demolition. This has sparked a row pitting Mombasa county administration, local Member of Parliament Omar Mwinyi and residents on one side, and Mr Marwa on the other.

But the abrasive administrator, who has often been at loggerheads with the county officials, has stood his ground.

Mr Mwinyi, the Changamwe MP, on Sunday questioned the rationale behind the evictions, alleging that insecurity was being used as an excuse.

COMMUNITY POLICING

“These people have lived here for decades and I don’t think there is any danger,” said Mr Mwinyi during an interview with the Daily Nation.

“Our community policing is so effective that, in the event a stranger appears in the area, they are reported immediately.

“In any case, the world over people live near airports and I don’t see anything special with Moi Airport. In my view, Mr Marwa does not represent the interests of the national government; there must be other forces behind him.”

The residents said they had been moved several times as the airport expanded and will not move further.

Mama Mwatima Mwinyipembe, 75, said she had lived in the area for more than 60 years and when they were last moved more than 20 years ago, they were not compensated.

“We don’t want to be paid and we will not move because money will not help us,” she said.

Mr Ali Bakari, a fisherman, said the residents were not opposed to the move, but they should be compensated first.

While leading a Mombasa County Government committee on Housing team on a tour of the area on Friday, chairman Saad Faraj, who is also Tononoka MCA, said the government should shelve the plans.