Govt to Compensate 3,000 Families Evicted From Nairobi Airport Land

  • Scenes from Friday night, May 15, 2020 demolitions in Ruai, Nairobi
    File
    Scenes from Friday night, May 15, 2020 demolitions in Ruai, Nairobi
  • 3,000 families that were evicted from land meant for the expansion of the Wilson Airport got a win when the Supreme Court on Monday, January 11, ordered their compensation.

    The ruling was given by a five-judge bench led by former Chief Justice David Maraga, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and justices Mohamed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u.

    In what was Maraga's final day at the Supreme Court, the Judges referred the matter to the High Court to craft appropriate reliefs for the evicted families which will see the government facilitate the compensation upon determination.

    "Interim reliefs, structural interdicts, supervisory orders or any other orders that may be issued by the courts, have to be specific, appropriate, clear, effective, and directed at the parties to the suit or any other State Agency vested with a constitutional or statutory mandate to enforce the order," they stated.

    Acting CJ Philomena Mwilu (left) with former CJ David Maraga during a ruling at the Supreme Court on January 11, 2021.
    Acting CJ Philomena Mwilu (left) with former CJ David Maraga during a ruling at the Supreme Court on January 11, 2021.
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    The bench set aside a ruling by the Appeals Court in favour of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA). 

    In the suit, Mitubell Welfare Society challenged their eviction by the Kenya Airports Authority a 404-acre land near Wilson Airport in 2011.

    In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court declared that where landless persons occupy public land, they also acquired protectable rights to housing.

    The judges found that the eviction by KAA violated a court order adding that during the exercise, residents had their property destroyed.

    The landmark ruling gave direction in the procedure for forced evictions in the country with the bench finding that illegal occupation of private land cannot create prescriptive rights over that land in favour of the occupants.

    "We don’t think the same can be said of an ‘illegal occupation’ of public land. To the contrary, we are of the considered opinion that where the landless occupy public land and establish homes thereon, they acquire no title to the land but a protectable right to housing over the same," the explained. 

    The five-judge bench added that the relief given by the court should be realistic, and avoid the temptation of judicial overreach, especially in matters of policy.

    "The orders should not be couched in general terms, nor should they be addressed to third parties who have no constitutional or statutory mandate to enforce them," they noted.

    Demolitions of homes near Wilson Airport in 2011.
    Demolitions of homes near Wilson Airport in 2011.
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