The Toi Fire Agony

by: April 30th, 2019 comments: 0

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It was on the dawn of 12th March, around 3 am, that Kibera residents woke up to the news that one of the largest markets in Nairobi, Kibera’s Toi market, was on fire.

Most of the traders come from a bit far from the market and so they could not rescue a lot of their goods and ended up losing almost all their properties to the fire.

Those who live in the neighboring villages came together to try and put out the fire using any means they could, including having to literally walk with water buckets to and from the sources of water.  One Ramsha Dee Maunda even posted a picture of himself with fire injuries after spending time trying to help put off the fire.

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There was heavy presence of the General Service Unit of The Police guarding the market that morning and no one, not even the traders, were allowed to access the market and there was  no explanation given for that, many people were left guessing what the reason for that could be.

Relief came when the former Prime Minister came to speak to the affected traders and, together with the County Government of Nairobi, stepped in and offered iron sheets to help in rebuilding the structures and also help in restructuring their business lives all over again.

According to the traders we interviewed, the iron sheets, worth five million, were still not enough aid to help them restart their businesses again, and most of them turned to money lending institutions to be able to rise again from the ashes and make things work for them.

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The market is so far taking back its former shape and glory and very soon, according to most traders, things will be fully back to normal.

“We are only requesting the customers to come back because the market is now operational,” summarizes Mr. Fredrick Mutinda, trader at Toi Market.

The Plight of Schools Demolished in Kibera

by: November 9th, 2018 comments: 0

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2018 is a year that most of Kibera residents would really like to forget. In the last 6 months, the residents of Kibera have been waking up to the sounds of bulldozers in their neighbourhood- not for purposes of evading traffic along Lang’ata road or Ngong Road. This time they had come with one purpose, to bring down structures which most of them had called home. To some, it was their business which ensured that they had something on the table at the end of the day. And to others these structures served as schools where their children went to learn and get the necessary knowledge that would prepare them for the market place and change their lives forever.

A Map designed by Zack Wambua showing the effects of the demolitions of schools in Kibera.

A map designed by Zack Wambua showing the effects of the demolitions of schools in Kibera (click image to expand).

The demolitions in Kibera affected 4 schools that were located near the railway line around 42 area and 10 more schools were affected when structures were demolished to pave way for the construction of Kibera Link road (the road meant to link Ngong road and Lang’ata road to ease traffic on Ngong road).

Demolition of structures that are along the railway line at 42

Demolition of structures that are along the railway line at 42

A bulldozer brings down structures around the DC's place.

A bulldozer brings down structures around the DC’s place.

After all these incidents Map Kibera team went back to the field to track the schools that were affected and update their current location on the Open Schools Kenya website. On our way, we stopped at Babylon Day Care to talk to the school head (who also happens to own the school) to find out if she knows where some of the demolished schools might have moved to. In between our conversation, we learnt that one of her other schools had also been demolished. Her face was filled with grief and sadness as she explained to us how she was forced to take some of her students to the nearest schools because she had nowhere to take them. We asked if she intends to reopen her school again and she told us she doesn’t see the need to and if she gets that chance again she will only do that in her rural place. After our short talk she shared with us the contacts of another school called Damside Preparatory that was affected and told us that the principal of that school would be in a position to tell us where the other schools relocated to.

 

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In some area we had find a way through the muddy footpaths to find the schools

In some area we had find a way through the muddy footpaths to find the schools

I quickly saved the number on my phone and proceeded to where we had been directed. When we got there, we were met with a vast empty land and the remains of what used to be people’s homes and schools. I called the school head and after a brief introduction he told me to go to where the school used to be as he was already there. We went through the rubble and after few miles we saw a group of people standing together. When we got to where they were we quickly introduced ourselves. The school head introduced the team that he was with, which comprised of class 8 candidates and two parents. The school head reminded us that the place where we were standing on is where their school used to stand and they were meeting there to finalize on their preparations for the forthcoming national exams. We were curious to find out where the students will sit for their exams now that the school had been demolished.

“The government offered space for the students in one of the nearby public school and so that is where they will do their exams,” said the school head.

“So what is next for the school? Have you found a place to move to?” we asked.

“Yes we got a place, we bought land somewhere close to Kiserian and that is where we have moved to,” said the school head. He went on to say, “So far we have been able to construct 2 classrooms and a dormitory. The plan is to have the school operate as a boarding school.”

“But that’s too far from Kibera, what happens to your students who live in Kibera?”

“I agree that’s far and the move has proved to be a challenge to some of our students since majority of them were needy and so they cannot afford all the requirements to be in a boarding school. We would have loved to move closer but where in Kibera can we move to? We all know how hard it is to get land let alone to get a title deed.”

The School head of Damside narrating their ordeal

The School Head of Damside narrating their ordeal

The school head went ahead to recount how they had incurred a lot of losses as a result of the demolition. He had just acquired the code to make his school an exam centre, a process that had cost him 100,000 KSH. In addition, he had just finished building a laboratory earlier this year that also cost him a large sum of money.

Afterwards, the school head agreed to an impromptu interview with members of our media team, Kibera News Network, who had accompanied us (check out their video here!). He also asked us to interview one of the parents and a student so that they can share their side of the story.

The school head later told us where the other schools moved to. One moved to a nearby SDA church, another pitched tent in a nearby health dispensary and the other one moved somewhere along Karanja road.

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After saying goodbye, we left to find those schools and pick the coordinates of their new location. On our way we couldn’t help but think of what some schools have had to endure as a result of the demolitions. Some have been left counting

Sam picking coordinates of where one of the schools moved to.

Sam picking coordinates of where one of the schools moved to.

losses, some have been forced to shut down. Others have had to partition some of the rooms to accommodate the number of students. Parents had to go through the hustle of looking for a new school and the most affected group is the students that have to walk a long distance to their new school and at the same time adapt to the new environment. I can’t imagine what could be going through the minds of class 8 and form 4 candidates. How are they supposed to compete with students from other schools considering what they have been through? While other students were in classes reading, students from the affected schools were busy trying to salvage what they could from the rubbles of what used to be their classroom. While other students are reading their books, students from these schools lost all their books during the demolition. The few books that they could salvage would have to be shared amongst themselves which means that they don’t get a chance to carry the books home with them to read.

We will continue to follow up with the schools, and update their information and locations on Open Schools Kenya.

Road Cuts Kibera in Two, Displacing Residents, Schools

by: July 28th, 2018 comments: 0

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The morning of Monday July 23, residents woke up to a shock of heavy police presence and bulldozer ready to bring down their homes. The demolition started by 7am as the residents watch in disbelief. It was at the same time a race against time to be able to rescue whatever property they could from their houses. Children ran around helter skelter, women cried helplessly and everyone carried away whatever they considered important to them.

The road will go from Yaya Center to join Langata road, through Lindi into Kibera South Health Center from DC’s area. Around 30,000 families have been affected by the demolition. The road was identified in 2014 and is meant to ease traffic within Nairobi city.

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Kibera residents have been living with a lot of uncertainty in the recent past. Not so long ago we witnessed the Kenya Railway decanting sites being demolished, leaving around 1000 residents homeless, some of whom even had housing allocation numbers and the key without a house. Just before that there was a major demolition all round Moi girls where a form two student girl was reported to have been raped by unknown person. Now, a huge road is cutting Kibera slum into two.

The residents had been given a notice to vacate the area, however, at the time of the demolition there was already a postponement order. There had been three different maps showing different routes that the road would pass. How were the residents supposed to know which road map would eventually be used? This led to a lot of push and pull between Kibera activists, civil societies and the government. Questioning who diverted the road three times and why was not futile. Several meetings were held between the affected persons, Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Kenya National Human Rights Commission, and the National Lands Commission trying to find an amicable solution to the issue and the best way the demolition would be carried out humanly. The two weeks’ notice was then extended indefinitely awaiting an enumeration and the development of a Relocation Action Plan, something that might have relieved the affected persons for a while. There was also a case in court awaiting ruling on the same issue. However, all this was disregarded that morning of July 23rd.

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The 10 acres road has also cost the Kibera people more than 10 schools, as well as churches and community based organizations. The schools as mapped by Map Kibera includes Egesa School, Makina Self Help Group, Makina Baptist, PEFA, Good News, New Horizon, Love Africa, Mashimoni Primary, Mashimoni Secondary, Mashimoni Squaters, Saviour Kings

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It’s at such times that many residents wondered whether they really belong to the country Kenya.

“We are not against the road passing, but can’t it be done with some dignity?” says the Founder of Egesa school. The schools only had one week to take their end term exams. The students will therefore not sit the exam. “It’s very unfortunate for the children who will miss their end term exam simply because of some greed, selfish and in human act.”

Don’t forget that the road has also robbed off Kibera their only social playground near DC’s area. How does it feel when a road has robbed you off your home, your livelihood, your church, your children’s school, your only social playground? People have also lost jobs. Only a few people would be in a position to find themselves a new place or even afford to travel back to their upcountry homes.

“This is the greatest betrayal I have ever seen from the government, see how people are calm no one is even reacting or protesting because they made us to calm the people down, promising to tackle the issue smoothly,” lamented Ben Ooko, the founder for Amani Kibera, a Community Resource Center that also suffered demolition. “I got a call very early in the morning that the police were heading here with a bulldozer, and I just rushed here to see. We really didn’t expect this because we had kind of reached an agreement with KURA in the presence of KNHRC, and so we were waiting for their guidance.” That morning Ben had posted on his Facebook, “Today is my birthday, and I get a gift of demolition.”

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Some people believed that this is a scheme by the government to try and finish Kibera in a bid to weaken the opposition, but where is Raila the former Prime Minister? Why is he so quiet on this? Kibra MP Hon Ken Okoth, who is currently out of the country, has in the recent past made a lot of noise on social media to have his people handled with some dignity even as they move from road reserve. But neither him nor Makina MCA Hon. Magembe could lobby to stop the demolition. Amnesty International accused the government for not following the agreement to relocate the persons affected, terming it a violation of Human Rights according to the International Human rights obligation. Is there such a thing as Human Rights and Constitutions to the people of Kibera? Article 40 of the Kenyan Constitution provides that those who occupy land without title deeds may be compensated in a good faith. What next? Who next? Where else? When next? How else? These are some of the questions lingering in the heads of Kibera residents.
Till when will Kibera people live with all these fears?

By Joshua Ogure

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