Muthurwa residents vow to stay put in housing row
Residents of Muthurwa estate have rejected an order to move out of the houses by the Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme.
This follows a notice published on the Daily Nation on Thursday, asking the tenants to vacate the estate by the end of the month, as per a court order on December 15, 2015. The order has been in place since January.
The defiant residents, however, said the notice was illegal and in violation of other ongoing court cases they have instituted over a similar matter.
Muthurwa Residents Welfare Association Chairman Patrick Kamotho said there was another case before the Employment and Labour Relations court by the former railways workers, retrenched in 1989, against the corporation.
According to guidelines by the World Bank restructuring programme, he said, those retrenched ought to live in the houses until the case is over.
“The guidelines say they ought to stay in these houses until such a time when the government will have finished with their pension matters,” said Mr Kamotho.
“As for the other tenants outside of the case, we are asking the AG and the President to halt this eviction until such a time when alternative accommodation will be secured,” he added.
According to the judgment, Attorney-General Githu Muigai is supposed to provide details on where the tenants are to be relocated to.
Mr Thomas Wainaina had joined the company in 1961, then known as the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation. He worked at the Nairobi Central workshop station when he was assigned a house at Muthurwa.
“I worked for the community for 15 years. We are yet to be given our dues. As retirees of one of the community’s institutions, we have filled the claim forms for pension benefits twice, but are yet to get any response. Now they want us to get out of these houses. Where is the money? Where shall we go without the money?” wondered Mr Wainaina.
Mr Muriithi Gachangi, 73, said he worked for the firm for 25 years.
“I have lived in this house, B8 door 5, since 1999 when I was transferred from my Nanyuki post to Nairobi. I have been earning Sh3,563 as pension every month. We still have a pending case over the same. How will I pay for a house elsewhere?” he asked.
Ms Christine Wangui, the 61-year-old mother of John Ndirangu who was retrenched from the company in 2006 and has since fallen ill, said she would only leave if she was given an alternative house. She has been living in the estate for the last 30 years. She takes care of her son’s children and other grandchildren.
According to Mr Kamotho, the original title deed of the estate showed it measured 72 acres. The estate has progressively lost small plots: 19 acres to Muthurwa market, five acres to a road still under construction.
There are 1,236 houses in the estate with an estimated population of 4,500 people.
A majority of the residents were retrenched by the corporation during the American-instigated restructuring programme and other subsequent layoffs.
The units no longer have electricity and water having been disconnected in another attempted eviction in 2010.