Nairobi County demolishes building in land tussle with family


People collect building materials and property from  a residential building that was demolished by the Nairobi County government near  Kangundo Road Market in Nairobi on January 10, 2024.

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Hundreds of residents of Kariobangi South KCC estate along Kangundo Road have been left homeless after the demolition of a three-storey building that housed over 50 families yesterday morning.

Property worth millions was lost, with distraught tenants saying they were woken up at around 2am by over 100 rowdy youth who chased them from their houses. Initially, they said, they thought they had been attacked by thugs, only for them to see a bulldozer begin demolishing the building.

Watching ruefully at what was once her home, Jamila Molu told the Nation that she could not get even her blanket from her house to cover herself and her two-year old daughter.

“Everything I have was destroyed and I do not even know where to begin. Why would anyone plan such evil against us?” she asked.

Her devastation could not match that of the owners of the building: Miriam Bilali and Mwanaisha Bilali, the granddaughters of Mwanaisha Bilali, the late Mau Mau veteran popularly known as Mama Uhuru.

Mwanaisha told the Nation that they were granted the piece of land on which the building stood in early 2002 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was then the Minister for Local Government.

A letter confirming this transfer dated January 7, 2002 listed the conditions to be met to finalise the process, including the payment of Sh10,000 as standard premium and a ground rent of Sh2,080.

“You are also advised that survey fees, legal fees, rates and other charges relating to this allocation will be paid on demand,” the letter reads. The family complied and effectively gained ownership of the land.

However, trouble began in 2021 when the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) issued the family with a notice to vacate the land. The family rushed to court seeking orders to stop their eviction from the land on which they had already invested tens of millions in putting up the rental property that had some 57 single rooms and four self-contained units.

An injunction was issued by the court stopping NMS from conducting any activity on the land identified as plot 127.

“That an order of temporary injunction do and is hereby issued prohibiting the NMS, its agents, servants or officers from entering the applicant’s parcel and taking any action thereon and enforcing the notice serial number 000128 dated May 2021 pending the inter-parties hearing and determination of this suit,” Senior Resident Magistrate MW Murage ruled on September 27, 2021. The matter is still in court.

 “We showed the court order to the youth and the operators of the bulldozer but they said they do not recognise the court and tore the document to pieces and continued with their pillaging,” Mwanaisha said.

Miriam said that the demolition of the building valued at Sh40 million has brought all their plans to a halt. For instance, she said, she had just got a Sh2.5 million loan in November to refurbish some parts of the building.

“This is the same government we voted for hoping it would help us prosper. But as it is, the same government, plus Nairobi City County government is returning us to the throes of poverty. Who will come to our rescue?” she asked.

Nairobi Police Commander Adamson Bungei said he was aware of the matter and that it was the county government that was involved in the demolition. 

“The county says the building is on its land that also houses Kangundo Road market and it wants to reclaim it. This resulted in what happened. My officers were not involved on this matter. As soon as the family files a report, we will pursue the matter to its end,” he said.