By Sidi Mweni
Over 500,000 residents of Kashani in Mombasa County are likely to miss out in the ongoing continuous voter registration, as they face eviction threats by private developers.
Kashani residents now say that since the developers threatened to evict them, the area has become hostile for any activity, and their stay there is uncertain.
They claim eviction threats intensified immediately after the government indicated that the Northern bypass would pass through that area.
Over the weekend police had to use tear gas to disperse locals who had gathered to chart the way forward, as the developers continue speculating for the land.
Dorris Dama a resident of the area accused the government for abandoning the locals and taking sides with the developers.
“When they heard that several structures were earmarked for demolition to pave way for the by pass, the developers started coming in large numbers to evict us; they don’t want us to benefit from the compensation.
“Worse enough, government officials have been working with these developers to evict us from our ancestral land”, Dorris said.
On Saturday October 2, 2021, locals engaged the police in running battles, as they gathered to be addressed by their local leaders.
The area member of Parliament Ali Mbogo who was to address them was stopped by a contingent of police who barricaded Kisauni road leading to Kashani where they had gathered waiting for him to address them.
Police armed with rungus and tear gas cannisters pounced on them causing the locals to run helter skelter and got injured in the melee.
Now the locals claim to be disoriented and expressed fear that when evicted they will not be able to register as voters in their area of residence. This, they say, would violate their democratic right come 2021.
Mzee Hussein Mwanjiran feels the move could be politically instigated to block them from taking part in the voter registration exercise.
“How do you evict residents who have been living peacefully for decades and expect them to participate in the voter registration exercise,” he paused.
The private developers are accused of using the government machineries to have them pushed out of the area and instead be compensated.
“We’re are being forced to forfeit all our land and to pay ksh 500,000 for a quarter of an acre, if we still want to stay here,” Nancy Wairimu lamented.
A meeting organised by government officials, the private developers, and a section of the locals aborted as the residents claimed they were duped to attend the meeting.
“We were hand picked to attend a meeting which they claimed was a development forum, but it turned out to be us against the so called developers. We had to walk out in protest,” said one of the locals who sought not to be named for fear of reprisals by the cartel.
The Saturday demonstration came hardly a few days after the previous meeting where government officials turned a blind ear forcing locals to take to the streets.
Plans to construct the Northern bypass which will connect Lamu Port and the Southern corridor are in high gear.