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Hundreds of expensive homes raided and destroyed

Brutal demolitions mark start of land occupation by Kenya Airport Authority

Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Uganda  Nov 14, 2011

(eTN) - Kenyans will be waking up on Monday morning, shocked to read about another act of government brutality and open defiance of ongoing court proceedings, as hundreds of expensive homes were raided and destroyed over the weekend – notably done when courts were not in session to obtain emergency orders – on land claimed by the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) yet also claimed by the owners of the residences.

Protected by a large contingent of well-armed police, the bulldozers, reportedly on instruction of the KAA management, moved into position before dawn and pounced on unsuspecting owners, bringing down one expensive home after the other.

The area member of parliament, kept at bay by uniformed and plain-clothed police, vowed to go to court first thing on Monday to stop the exercise, underscoring the residents’ claim that the land in question was not part of KAA’s land, was outside Nairobi in a different county, and had a general title issued with individual title deeds under processing, while a source acquainted with the workings of the Kenya Airport Authority said that the land was only claimed by KAA but the legality of the claim highly doubtful.

Ongoing court proceedings over the same issue were ignored by the demolition crews and the security forces, and they reportedly tried to destroy as much as they could over the weekend, probably anticipating a court order being served on them to halt the exercise.

The damages are running into the hundreds of millions of shillings already, and while the owners and their families spent a miserable night in the cold, counting their losses of property and assets, the KAA management will probably now get into a fight for their own life as the full extent of their folly becomes apparent.

They will try to hide behind an apparent cabinet decision, which according to another source, sanctioned the demolition, believing KAA’s submissions that the land in question was theirs and to be used for the long-overdue expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. A regular aviation source in an overnight communications put doubts to that, stating: “For one, the present and past KAA managements were and are largely incompetent; we have said that time and again, and the failures of JKIA systems are too many to recount here.

“KAA is dogged by allegations of nepotism; the last CEO is the best example for that, and the appointment of the present CEO was surrounded by deep controversy also when even parliament was ignored after the minister made the appointment in great haste. These guys were sitting on their behinds for too long doing nothing.

“Airport expansion was not a priority until JKIA became the mess it is for all to see. Only last week we were voted to be amongst the worst airports in the world. If that land is truly KAA’s, and there is no evidence for that as far as one can see, they should have fenced it off years ago and made it part of the restricted areas secured by patrols and gadgets. They never did, however. If government now wants to claim this land, they should negotiate with the owners, offer compensation, alternative land, and allow an orderly process to go ahead, not to create facts with bulldozers, destroy people’s live savings and property, and leave them in the cold to rot.

“There are elections next year and though the President will retire, the prime minister will face the music over this atrocity. It will become a campaign issue for sure. In any case, this will end up in court Monday morning, and I expect an injunction to be issued against further demolitions, which is why they were so busy pulling houses down.

“The same situation, by the way, exists at Wilson Airport where buildings were permitted to be constructed in the approach and departure paths, which is very dangerous for those living there, and any aircraft in trouble trying to make it to the runway. We had a few accidents with aircraft crashing into residential buildings already there over the past years. Why did government stand by and see these apartments go up and did nothing? At JKIA, the demolished houses were not a threat to the approach and departure paths.”

This correspondent has been on KAA’s case for a long time over their neglect to develop a timely vision and make it reality for Kenya’s, and in fact the region’s, most important aviation hub, but that said, should the bulldozing tactics of the weekend turn out to be illegal by a court ruling, then time really should be up for the KAA management,and perhaps a criminal prosecution would be the right response over malicious damage and fraudulent claims over land they do not own.

Brutal demolitions mark start of land occupation by Kenya Airport Authority
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