Azimio calls for an end to Athi River demolitions

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023 14:52 | By
Azimio leaders
Azimio leaders in a past function. PHOTO/@skmusyoka/X

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition party has called for an end to the demolitions happening in Athi River to evict encroachers of the East African Portland Cement's land.

In a statement on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, Azimio accused President William Ruto of reneging on his campaign promise that he would not allow forceful evictions. According to Azimio, Ruto promised that the affected people would be provided with enough notice and compensation promptly paid.

"Well, it is October 2023, and a human tragedy is unfolding before the eyes of Kenyans, under Ruto’s watch and his loud silence. What has gone on here in Mavoko these past few days is not just inhumane, it is also ungodly," Azimio stated.

"What is going on here is forced eviction, the exact crime Ruto promised to bring to an end in July last year. It is a gross violation of human rights; the right to adequate housing at a time the administration purports to be working to ensure that everyone has shelter."

Azimio accused the government of acting inhumanely by demolishing houses in Athi River, schools and other institutions which have been serving the residents at a time when the rains are setting in.

In what Azimio termed as the affliction of "maximum pain and damage", the opposition party accused the government of the day of using barbarian methods to kick out Athi River residents.

"The evictions have taken place just as the rains are beginning to set in; they are taking place bad weather, without any compensation, alternative accommodation or access to safe and secure food, safe drinking water and sanitation, and medical services," the statement added.

"There are reports of injuries and theft of property belonging to people whose suffering and loss is already too grim."

The opposition has also accused the Kenya Kwanza government of going against the 2009 Evictions and Resettlement Guidelines which require notice to be written or published in the official government gazette 90 days ahead of time.

Alternative solution to Athi River demolitions

Azimio says that since the land in Athi River is owned by the government through the East African Portland Cement, it should have found a different solution to settle the citizens.

The opposition has also called for investigations to find out how land belonging to the company was sold to Kenyans, and bring to book those involved.

"One thing that is being used against opposition to the demolitions is that East African Portland Cement owns the land and the titles were fraudulent. We therefore demand investigation and accountability of everyone, private and public, involved in this," the statement further read.

"What is this great and urgent use of the land where demolition was done that so greatly overweighed people's lives and savings? What is this urgent use that could not allow people time to move out by, say, next year? Are there personal interests riding on the guise of public interest?"

Portland Cement puts on sale part of its land in Mavoko amid demolitions
An NYS low-loader brings down a house at the ongoing Athi-river demolitions which entered Day 5, yesterday. PHOTO/Christine Musa

The opposition has vowed to help the victims get justice if the government does not act swiftly to resettle the victims and bring to book the culprits involved.

"The Kenya Kwanza administration must immediately halt any further demolitions. It must share with the victims and the country the immediate plans to pay compensation for property that has been unlawfully destroyed and to find alternative settlements for the victims. This brutality will not go unchallenged. This brutality will have to be answered for and accounted for. If the government does not act, we will help the people to act," the opposition outfit added.

Portland Cement offers to sell part of its land in Athi River

On Tuesday, East African Portland Cement announced plans to sell a section of its land in Mavoko, Machakos County, amid protests over ongoing demolitions.

In a public notice published in the local dailies on Tuesday, October 17, the construction company that has been embroiled in a protracted land dispute with local investors in recent years, said it had resolved to sell plot numbers 8784/144, 145 & 653 through a "regularisation model".

The company further announced that persons occupying the land would be given priority.

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