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Proposed law to halt illegal evictions and demolitions in Nairobi

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Proposed law to halt illegal evictions and demolitions in Nairobi


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A resident of Dagoretti in Nairobi salvages his belongings following the demolition of houses and shops in the city estate on October 1, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Over the years, Nairobi residents have become used to haphazard property demolitions, many a time without any eviction notice.

Areas in Nairobi affected by a spate of demolitions and evictions include Chokaa, Njiru, Dandora, Githurai and Kariobangi, some of which have resulted in injuries and loss of properties with affected residents left to spend nights in the cold.

The biggest outcry has accompanied the evictions in Njiru and Kariobangi North in the last two years, where more than 10,000 residents have seen their property demolished on land that the government said was meant for water and sewerage works.

Markets are also a target for evictions, some by private developers who claim ownership of the land on which they are built.

It is against this backdrop that the Nairobi County Assembly is looking to pass a law that will set out appropriate procedures for eviction, demolitions and resettlement in the county.

It promises to offer protection from arbitrary evictions, protection and enforcement of fundamental freedoms and rights and the right to fair administrative action for city residents.

The Nairobi City County Evictions, Resettlement and Demolitions Control Bill 2020, sponsored by Parklands MCA Jayendra Malde, seeks to streamline the demolition of unauthorised structures in Nairobi.

The Bill is currently in the second reading. If successfully passed, it will stop the weekend demolitions that have become the norm, ostensibly to take advantage of the fact that courts do not sit on weekends and are therefore unlikely to issue emergency orders stopping such exercises.

The Bill further proposes that such evictions be carried out during good weather with no heavy equipment used except for permanent structures.

“An eviction shall be conducted during regular working hours, on Monday to Friday and during good weather,” reads the Bill in part.

In cases where people are being evicted from public land, it should have been set aside for a public utility, with the government or county demonstrating its plans to roll out an infrastructure project on the said land.

They must also have a court order authorising the eviction or demolition.

Concerned person

Further, an eviction can only be done where the premises pose danger to a person or the public such as railroad tracks, garbage dumpsites, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways and public places like sidewalks, roads, parks or playgrounds.

But even then, a demolition order from a competent court must be issued to the concerned person who must have also been served with at least seven-day notice to show cause why such order should not be made.

City Hall will then be required to provide proper identification of all persons undertaking the demolitions or evictions, as a way of preventing abuse by the officials.

“The authorised officer (must) cause a demolition notice to be affixed in a conspicuous part of the public premises or land,” reads the Bill in part.

These haphazard demolitions also come at a cost to the county, in cases where victims sue for damages.

In July 2019, City Hall was ordered to pay Sh60 million in compensation to a couple whose property was demolished without notice in March 2018 in Kariobangi South to pave the way for the construction of a fire station.

The County Assembly Planning and Land Committee, which heard petitions from victims of the Kariobangi demolitions, found that Silas and Florence Njeru had been allocated their plots regularly, put up a four-storey building with the approval of the City Hall and duly paid rates up to 2017.

As a deterrent, the Bill now vests the county Land executive with the responsibility of sanctioning any eviction, after ascertaining whether it meets all the requirements set out in law.

The executive will then publish a notice of eviction in the gazette and at least two newspapers of nationwide circulation, at least three months before the eviction.

One of the common defences for those being evicted is that they have settled on the land in question for years, sometimes decades, and know no other home.

Families stranded

This aspect has normally been the most emotive among activists and human rights defenders, concerned about images of families stranded with nowhere to go.

To address this, the Bill will mandate the county to resettle evictees from public land as well as those displaced due to internal strife or acts of war.

The county must, therefore, prepare a resettlement plan before carrying out the evictions, which will include negotiations and agreements with representatives of the affected families and the communities where they are to be resettled.

“Where the return of the displaced persons is possible, the CEC shall establish conditions and provide means, including financial measures for voluntary return in safety, security and dignity to homes or place of habitual residence while ensuring the resettlement occurs in a just and equitable manner and accordance with the resettlement plan,” reads the bill.

Unauthorised occupant

For those on private land, a court order must be obtained by the landowner against any unauthorised occupant.

The private owner shall, before filing a suit for eviction, give written notice of at least three months before the date of the intended eviction to the unauthorised occupant with the notice posted in a conspicuous place within the land or premises or delivered to the unauthorised occupant.

The notice shall state the reason for the eviction and shall give the unauthorised occupant at least 14 days to vacate the land or premises.

“Where a notice is given and the unauthorised occupant does not vacate the premises or land, the owner may file a case in the High Court, seeking eviction orders,” the Bill reads.

However, the owner can apply for temporary removal of an unauthorised occupant of the premises or land pending the hearing and determination of the case, but only if there is real and imminent danger of substantial injury or damage to any person or property.

The Bill also allows the rightful owner of the land the right to auction any unclaimed property or material left behind after an eviction once they occupy the land.

But if the property is sold, the net proceeds of the sale after deducting expenses and dues to the government or the owner are paid to the evicted person.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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