Families left homeless as demolitions begin in city

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More than 450 households in Nairobi have been made homeless after the county government brought down three buildings.
The demolition of unsafe houses in Mathare Area 1 began on Tuesday following the April 29 collapse of a building in Huruma Estate, where 51 people were killed.
Speaking in his office on Tuesday, Planning and Lands Executive Christopher Khaemba said they expected to demolish more than 200 residential building in the next six months.
He said the demolition, which the devolved unit is carrying out in collaboration with the national government, will cost Sh1 million daily in terms of fuel for the excavators.
“City Hall does not have the machinery to carry out a mass demolition,” said Mr Khaemba. “We have therefore engaged the Ministry of Public Works, the National Youth Service and the military to provide the machines needed.”
Initially, the county government had earmarked six unsafe houses in Huruma, which tenants were supposed to vacate within seven days. The deadline lapsed on Tuesday.
Mr Khaemba said the county had done a physical check and found only two had been vacated and so they will be demolished today.
The county has engaged a private contractor at a cost of Sh10,000 an hour to bring down the buildings in Huruma that are close to the collapsed one, Mr Khaemba said.
Speaking at the site, Mr Pius Masai, the deputy director of the National Disaster Management Unit, said the demolition will be determined by the available machinery. He added that it will be carried out in a systematic manner so as to ensure the safety of the people.
“This is an inter-agency operation and the demolition will be done in phases,” said Mr Masai.
Owners of the condemned buildings had salvaged some of the building materials before the demolition, Mr Masai said, adding that people had vacated voluntarily.
A Mathare resident, Mr Nicholas Akala, welcomed the demolitions, saying the government was to blame for the corruption in the planning sector.
He said the house that was brought down was built on a sewer line and on a road reserve, posing danger to those living in it and those using the road.
However, the house, which was more than 20 years old, was vacated six months ago.

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