Hundreds of homes and businesses were demolished by government agents in Lang’ata, Nairobi, on Wednesday night, leaving several families homeless.
The demolition followed a notice from Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to residents to vacate the area before November 6.
Elijah Memba, their chairman, said police officers at the scene deflected questions from residents about who ordered the demolition.
“I asked one of the people and he introduced himself as Alvin from the NMS. He was accompanied by police officers, who told me that he was given the order by the regional commander,” Mr Memba said.
NMS spokesman Tony Mbarine said the agency was aware of the demolition of structures near Wilson Airport.
“It was a security operation to clear the airport area,” he said.
Maureen, one of the affected residents, huddled in the open with her five children pondering her next move after a bulldozer flattened her home.
She said she had lived in the area for four years and that residents expected the NMS action.
“We have camped outside since yesterday. NMS told us the structures would be demolished but no specific dates were indicated,” she said.
“My children have not gone to school. They have not eaten. I am a mother, I have to fend for them, but where can I get the money to buy food? I have picked up mangoes on the road to give to my children,” Maureen said, tears running down her face.
Joseph Noreria, a priest in the area, said the unfortunate incident caught him and other residents by surprise.
“I was from (a church function) when I saw the bulldozer and a lorry packed at KAA, with police officers in six cars. I decided to rush and tell other residents to remove their belongings from their houses,” he said.
“Then a person came out of one of the cars and choked me, asking me what I was doing there. He ordered the police to arrest me but they did not arrest me. They did not even give us a minute to move our things. They started destroying our houses.”