Kenya Railways Court Case Leaves Hundreds Homeless in Nairobi
Hundreds of tenants in Nairobi’s Muthurwa Estate have been left homeless after a long-running court battle against Kenya Railways Corporation.
The verdict gives 359 tenants a deadline of four months to leave their homes before the properties are demolished. The residents sued the corporation, its Staff Retirements Benefit Scheme and the Attorney General in October 2010. Kenya Railways now claims it can’t afford to pay its members’ pensions and that rent payments have been missed residents on the estate.
A failure on both sides to cooperate
High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola’s verdict comes just two years after the same judge declared that Kenya Railways had violated the residents’ right to accessible housing and put its eviction plans on hold. However, the judge says both sides failed to agree amicable terms between them and failed to cooperate with his previous ruling.
“It seems to me that goodwill does not exist on any party to this litigation, it is close to two years since then and the opportunity to amicably address the date and conditions of eviction has been lost, the residents are hereby ordered to vacate the said premises,” Justice Lenaola said in court.
International standards to be met
In his initial verdict, Justice Lenaola gave the state 90 days to clarify its policies on forced evictions and the demolition of property. On Friday, the judge explained his original terms are to be upheld, but gave the state a further two months to clarify its policies in line with international standards.
He said the eviction process should involve UN guidelines that stipulate government officials and neutral observers should witness the exercise. UN guidelines also state such evictions shouldn’t take place at night or during bad weather, public holidays, exam periods and a number of other difficult times.