OPINION: Kibos evictions by Kenya Railways barbaric, crime against humanity
By Eliud Owalo
The on-going demolition of homes, business premises, churches and mosques by Kenya Railways in Kibos, Kisumu County constitutes a flagrant violation of both the Kenyan constitution and international law which should not only be condemned in the strongest terms possible but must also cease immediately.
Already, a humanitarian catastrophe and at least one needless loss of life has been reported arising from the demolitions in Kibos, Muhoroni, Koru, Lela and Otonglo areas within Kisumu County.
It is shocking that the political leadership in Nyanza which had a meeting in Kisumu County at the height of the evictions this week has turned a deaf ear, abandoned and ignored the plight of the poor and vulnerable people of the region.
The political leadership has maintained a studious and conspicuous silence as the rich and powerful systematically use Kenya Railways to forcibly displace innocent and genuine title-holding Kenyans from their lands in cruel actions that are tantamount to crimes against humanity.
For example, most of the evictees from the sugar belt are inhabitants and genuine title holders who have occupied the properties since the 1930s.
The Nubian community that has recently been evicted from the Kibos area were settled in the region by the very Government that is now facilitating the forceful evictions.
Surprisingly, the Kisumu County Government that had feigned ignorance of the evictions came up with an alternative land for resettlement of the Kibos evictees within a day, laying credence to fears that the evictions is an elaborate scheme by the Government being executed with the full knowledge and connivance of both the Kisumu County Government and the political leadership in Nyanza.
The law is clear to the effect that anybody who has held an adverse position of any land for a period of over 11 years is deemed to be the rightful owner of the land.
Moreover, Kenya Railways is by law only entitled to a way leave of up to 8 meters from the railway line, as opposed to the massive tracks of private land that it is now illegally encroaching onto.
Finally, there is nothing like Government land in Law. Any land in possession of the Government is held in trust on behalf of the Kenyan people.
It is therefore my considered opinion that there is no justification for the recent and ongoing forceful evictions other than a scheme by powerful individuals and the political leadership in Nyanza to grab strategic parcels of land in anticipation of economic gain by subsequently selling the same to government at inflated and exorbitant prices during the envisaged construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and other related developments like the Export Processing Zones.
And the facts of the case is that the real faces behind the demolitions is the political leadership in Nyanza, with Kenya Railways only coming in handy as a facilitator and agent of necessity.
Kenya Railways must immediately end this unlawful, cruel and discriminatory demolitions and forced displacement of the people lest its management shall be held personally liable for the consequences of their actions and any other matters arising therefrom or incidental thereto.
The political class who are the real faces behind these evictions should also be aware that they run the risk of being convicted for crimes against humanity, however long it takes.
Eliud Owalo is a management consultant
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