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Residents protest demolitions in Maringo, Madaraka

The ghosts of demolitions by private developers have again hit Nairobi with at least eight families left homeless after their houses were brought down by a private developer.

The affected families were living in Nairobi County-owned houses in estates such as Makadara NCC RH1 Estate in Maringo and Makadara sub-County.

They had their houses demolished last week by a group of hired youths even as armed police reportedly offered them security.

Hamza/Maringo MCA Mark Ndung’u said the private developer claimed to have signed a lease agreement with the defiant city council in 1982 over ownership of the houses yet the affected families have been living in the houses since the 1950’s.

He pointed out that the private developer, a daughter of a former Nairobi councilor, also obtained a “suspicious” court order that she used to evict the tenants.

Mr Ndung’u alleged that the dates in the claimed lease agreement might have been backdated and investigations should be launched over the issue.

“If you look at the lease agreement, it was signed in 1982 yet the private developer is only 50 years or thereabouts. Did she sign the agreement while below 18 years?” posed the MCA.

Further, Nairobi County Chief Valuer Isaac Nyoike, in a letter dated September 3, 2021, disowned the lease agreement by the private developer, saying it is “suspicious”.

“The above-referenced properties are held under former City Council of Nairobi leases. However, the process of obtaining the leases is doubtful. Kindly, therefore, suspend the account until further notice,” read in part Mr Nyoike’s letter to Chief Accountant (Rates).

Mr Ndung’u raised concerns over increased cases of private developers using “suspect” court orders to evict bona fide owners from their properties in the area.

He cited a case of 4,000 traders in Uhuru Market off Jogoo Road who had their stalls demolished April this year by a private developer who went ahead to erect containers in the land claiming ownership of the land.

It took the intervention of the ward representative and area MP George Aladwa to go to court and obtain orders stopping the eviction.

“I am calling upon this assembly to inquire into the issue in order to prevent more demolitions. There is no way one can be given a lease for county-owned houses while the original tenants have the cards,” he said.

Dispute over the contested piece of land began in 2011 when the private developer and tenants headed to court. However, the tenants won the case with a ruling delivered on February 15, 2011 by Judge P.G Waweru.

In 2017, the private developer went back to court and it took four years for her to obtain an eviction order against the tenants in 2021.