What you need to know:
- Mr Irungu said Colfax is in violation of constitutional provisions that protect and promote the rights of children to free and compulsory primary education.
- Close to 8, 500 people from the community and over 1, 200 children are at the risk of displacement through the ongoing excavation.
- The rights groups also want the State Department of Lands and Physical Planning to expedite the titling of Mwamdudu Primary School.
- Kwale County Director of Education Sammy Kagiri said the school was public property and that the pupils would not be evicted.
The Shule Yangu Alliance has condemned the forceful eviction of Mwamdudu Primary School from a piece of land in Kwale County by Colfax Holdings Limited.
The school, they say is yet again another school at the risk of land-grabbing.
Established in 1966 and with 1,200 pupils, the school currently risks being evicted from its land by the said company.
According to the Society for International Development Associate Director Irungu Houghton, Colfax is excavating soil underneath the school and its surroundings in efforts to forcefully evict them to pave way for probable construction of a dry port.
“The forced evictions, carried out by excavating soil from underneath the community, to blowing up buildings with explosives, is a gross violation of the rights of the people in the community.
“These actions have destabilised the ground further resulting to injuries, including broken and fractured limbs,” Mr Irungu told the Nation.
TEACHERS, PUPILS INJURED
So far, at least three people (two teachers and a pupil) have suffered serious injuries as a result of the ongoing extraction by Colfax Company.
Mr Irungu said Colfax is in violation of constitutional provisions that protect and promote the rights of children to free and compulsory primary education and the protection of public land.
“The articles affirm that all Kenyans have an inherent dignity and that must be respected and protected.
“Further, forced evictions have been found unacceptable by the Courts. They constitute a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of basic rights to food, education, and healthcare,” he added.
Close to 8, 500 people from the community and over 1, 200 children are at the risk of displacement through the ongoing excavation.
“This is a farming and fishing community, deriving its livelihood from coconut, mangoes, cashew nuts, orange trees, and fish.
“Displacing them will increase their vulnerabilities to poverty, food insecurity, and most likely, conflicts with other communities and tribes in areas they may try to resettle in,” said Ms Victoria Green of ShuleYangu Alliance.
IN SUPPORT OF SCHOOL
In support of the Mwamdudu Primary school and the community at large, the ShuleYangu Alliance, Transparency International Kenya, Muslims for Human Rights and Haki Yetu organisations have called for the immediate termination of actions used to forcibly evict the community.
They also want a swift action by the National Land Commission (NLC), Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the matter.
The rights groups also want the State Department of Lands and Physical Planning to expedite the titling of Mwamdudu Primary School in line with the presidential directive of January 22, 2015 in the aftermath of Lang’ata Road Primary School land grabbing saga.
Currently over 11, 000 public schools across the country are at the risk of land-grabbing and encroachment according to ShuleYangu statistics.
“Each week, we receive 1-2 new cases of land-grabbing from schools. We hear of children, angry and frustrated, demonstrating against the theft of their land, and as a result, their education,” Ms Green said.
APPEAL TO PRESIDENT
Shule Yangu also wants President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a moratorium on the sale or transaction of all school land until universal titling is complete.
They also called for the prosecution of past and current public officials who may have participated in the sale of school land.
Muhuri Executive Director Hassan Abdile called on the parents and community to fight for the pupils and retain the school.
“Grabbing school land is corruption and it concerns you as parents to fight for the children. This school has been here since 1966. It is an old school and has to stay,” Mr Abdile said.
Fr Gabriel Dolan of Haki Yetu organisation asked the NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri to ensure that the school gets a land title deed to shield it from unscrupulous land grabbers.
Kwale County Director of Education Sammy Kagiri said the school was public property and that the pupils would not be evicted.
“This is government property as a public school and it cannot be taken so easily. I want to assure you that this school will not go anywhere and however thinks they will evict you should wake up from [their] slumber,” Mr Kagiri said.