- FileEddy Mwanza
Landlords and homeowners in Ruaka's Joyland area woke up to the sound of lorries pouring tonnes of soil right outside their doorsteps on Monday, December 21.
The lorries and bulldozers are part of the ongoing expansion of the Northern bypass road project into a 4-lane carriageway.
Hundreds of houses erected along what has been deemed as road reserves have since been marked 'remove' leaving landlords at risk of losing billions spent on the hundreds of apartments that snake their way from Ndenderu to the heart of Ruaka.
The project has now reached Joyland Shopping Centre in Ruaka where thousands of tenants call home.Roadworks along Limuru Road in Ruaka, October 28, 2020.Eddy Mwanza
Area residents had joined forces and trooped to court to stop the project or find a way to recoup their investment, but the progression of the mega-project has renewed fears that thousands will be forced to move out, with landlords facing billions in losses.
This is not the first time area residents have come together in a bid to stop a road project in the area.
In 2009, the plans for the construction of the Northern Bypass led to a temporary union between Ruaka residents and Runda Residents Association.
The group argued that the road posed a major environmental threat as it would destroy wetlands in the area.
They further argued that the new road would kill the neighboring Githogoro slum besides opening up the affluent neighbourhood to serious security threats.
Their protests did little to halt the project that was launched by former President Mwai Kibaki that is currently undergoing expansion.
Govt officials have been on record stating that encroachment has been most rampant between the point at which the Northern bypass crosses Red Hill road and the Ruaka Shopping Centre.
Recently, the union of landlords from the area argued that the Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) was using a draft map that was not issued by the Survey of Kenya to declare their properties had encroached on a road reserve.
"The reason why there is a dispute is that the maps are not tallying. The maps we have are from the survey of Kenya and according to them, we are far away from the road. Kenha now comes up with another map saying our houses are on road reserves," one of the landlords told the media.
On their part, Kenha maintained that it bought the pieces of land between 1969 and 1970 and went ahead to gazette them as road reserves.
"Gazette notice numbers 3345-3346 dated October 10, 1969, and 3437-3438 of November 20, 1970, the government compulsorily acquired land from various parcels in the area for road realignment and expansion," it reads in part.
The Northern Bypass is 31 kilometers long and starts from Ruaka trading center on Limuru Road, overpasses Banana Road, and reaches Closeburn farm. It then passes Kahawa West and Kamae and proceeds to Ruiru where it joins the Eastern bypass.
The new 17km stretch was designed in 2019 and is due to be completed in 2022. It runs from Gitaru to Ruaka through Wangige, Kalara, Ndenderu, and Rumigi.
It has six interchanges and overpasses in each of the 6 towns where the 4-lane carriageway is set to pass.
As of December 21, the ongoing works are currently taking place at the Joyland Shopping Centre in Ruaka.Joyland shopping center in Ruaka. December 21, 2020.FileEddy MwanzaDemolitions of Airgate Centre, previously known as Taj Mall in NairobiThe Standard
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