Njiru settlers seek talks with Kirima family over evictions

Kirima land

Some of the houses illegally constructed on a parcel of land owned by late billionaire Gerishon Kirima’s family in a photo taken on October 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi  | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • When the ‘Nation’ visited the estate, many residents looked anxious, wondering where they would go in the next two months if they are evicted.
  • The affected are also living in fear, worried that some youths will attack them if they are seen talking to the media.

A magistrate, senior police officers, media personalities and politicians are among the 1,000 settlers who have been ordered to vacate a parcel of land owned by the family of late billionaire Gerishon Kirima.

They built permanent structures on the land in Njiru, eastern Nairobi, and have lived there for several years.

The ‘squatters’, who have to vacate the vast property by December 31, 2023, are now seeking to meet the Kirima family to forestall the evictions.

When the ‘Nation’ visited the estate, many residents looked anxious, wondering where they would go in the next two months if they are evicted.

Mr Joel Nyamatari, the chairman of the residents’ association, said they wish to talk to the Kirima family to find a better solution instead of demolishing their houses.

“Our request is to talk to the Kirima family so that we can save our investments. When we bought this land, we did not know this would happen,” said Mr Nyamatari.

He said they hope the family would agree to give them a payment plan as long as they are allowed to continue living there.

Another resident, Ms Mary Atieno, who bought land in 2011, said she had put all her savings into building her house.

She said if she is evicted from her home, she will have no option but to return to her rural home in Migori County.

“I cannot imagine going back and renting a house somewhere in town; my children are now used to living in their own compound. Going back to a rented house will be hectic,” said Ms Atieno.

Another resident, Mr Christine Kibai, said she almost sold the land but later changed her mind and built her retirement home.

She said when she told her brothers what has happened, they were reluctant to welcome her back.

“They told me that I could start living in a small town in our rural area until I saved enough to buy another piece of land,” said Ms Kibai.

Mr Joseph Kimani, a businessman who has built rental houses, said he had not even finished servicing his loan.

“If I had known this was going to happen, I would not have invested here,” he said, adding that the media should help them set up a meeting with members of the Kirima family.

The affected are also living in fear, worried that some youths will attack them if they are seen talking to the media.

According to them, those who sold the land are working with ‘spies’ who will be watching everything that happens now that a decision has been made to evict them.

“If we are seen talking to the media, we will be harassed for airing our grievances. That is why we called you to this hidden place,” said one of the residents.

Some of the buildings constructed on the land are apartments, bungalows, schools and the Twiga police post.

Some of the buildings are still under construction.

However, 100 of the estate’s residents, whose respective sales are being finalised by Kirima’s two widows, have been given the nod to continue living on the parcel that once housed Njiiru abattoir.

They include Mr Geoffrey Mungai who bought 14 plots, Mr Paul Ndung'u who bought several plots, Victoria Technical Enterprises, and Mr Isaac Mbugua.

On Monday, the Environment and Land Court in Kisumu County gave the unregistered occupiers of the land, estimated to be worth Sh5 billion, a total of 70 days to vacate or face eviction.

Kisumu Environment and Lands Court Judge Samson Odhiambo Okong'o ruled that the land belongs to Ms Teresia Wairimu and Ms Anne Wangare, the widows of Kirima, a former Member of Parliament for Starehe.

In 2014, some 300 petitioners led by Mr John Otieno Obade went to court claiming they are the rightful owners of the land. The petition named Ms Wairimu and Ms Wangare as respondents.

“The plaintiffs in this suit have no valid claim to LR No. 6825/2 (the land in Njiru area),” the judge ruled.

“To save them from being forcibly evicted from the property, I hereby give those of them who are actually occupying L.R. No. 6825/2 until and including December 31, 2023 to vacate and hand over possession of the property to the estate of GK Kirima, failing which the estate shall be at liberty to evict them from the property,” Justice Okong'o added.

Three groups of squatters laid claim to the land, saying they were entitled to it by adverse possession.

But Justice Okong’o said the squatters had entered the land and started building their houses without any legal basis. “The plaintiff (Kirima family) has proved that the defendants did not obtain his consent before entering his said land and commencing construction thereon,” he said.

“In the circumstances, the defendants were trespassers on the said land.”