Counties

Judge halts demolitions in Sh1.8bn Thika bypass plan

Thika-Land

Members of Umoja Settlement Scheme in Thika during a past protest in Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Summary

  • A judge has suspended a plan to demolish houses at the Umoja Settlement Scheme in Thika to pave the way for the Sh1.8 billion bypass, which connects Thika-Garissa and Nairobi-Nyeri highways through Delmonte farm.
  • The 21-kilometre road project, which the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) undertaking, aims to end traffic snarl-ups in Thika town.
  • Environment and Land Court judge Lucy Gacheru said the planned demolition stays suspended pending the hearing and determination of a case residents of the settlement scheme filed.

A judge has suspended a plan to demolish houses at the Umoja Settlement Scheme in Thika to pave the way for the Sh1.8 billion bypass, which connects Thika-Garissa and Nairobi-Nyeri highways through Delmonte farm.

The 21-kilometre road project, which the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) undertaking, aims to end traffic snarl-ups in Thika town.

Environment and Land Court judge Lucy Gacheru said the planned demolition stays suspended pending the hearing and determination of a case residents of the settlement scheme filed.

“If Kura is allowed to demolish and institute forceful removal of the petitioners, there is no doubt that the petitioners will suffer prejudice as their efforts to recover the suit property if indeed the court is to find that their rights were violated will be next to impossible,” she ruled.

Therefore, Justice Gacheru said, the court was satisfied that if the orders are not issued, the slum residents would suffer irreparable harm.

The judge considered that the residents have land ownership documents.

Led by Ng’ang’a Njoroge, the residents said the defunct Municipal Council of Thika allocated them the plots after it relocated them from Madharau Area to Umoja Settlement Scheme.

The council subsequently allocated the residents the suit parcel of land with a letter of allotment.

Further, that the suit property was previously reserved for the public cemetery but the municipal council changed its use to residential. The attached minutes of a meeting at the Municipal Council of Thika as evidence in court to back the claim.

Mr Njoroge argued that last October, the roads agency issued them with a removal notice of 30 days and earmarked structures for demolition should they fail to comply.

However, the Ministry of Roads through Josiah Mwangi Wandurua said the petitioners reside as encroachers onto the portion of the corridor of the Thika By-Pass.

“Prior to the commencement of the project, Kura conducted stakeholders’ forums and meetings and all relevant information was shared and queries resolved,” he said while opposing the suit.