Scores of businesspeople on busy Thika-Garissa highway are counting losses after Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) continued to flatten structures on road reserve. In a move that caught most of them unawares, a convoy of huge road works machineries backed by armed police descended on the structures demolishing them in minutes.
At Gatuanyaga shopping centre, a newly built Consolata College perimeter wall was destroyed as owners watched. “I watched as the bulldozers descended on the college wall. We want justice, KeNHA workers are paid through the taxes I pay to the government yet they mercilessly put down all my structures. I have lost millions,”said incensed Joe Mureithi, the college proprietor.
Other owners of structures which were destroyed demanded compensation for the losses. They said although a notice of demolition was issued to individuals and entities owning business stalls and residential houses on the road a month ago, the demolition was done late at night which made it difficult for them to salvage anything. “We were served with the notice but KeNHA acted as robots.
They did not even allow us to salvage anything. We want the government to relook at the issue because it is has affected so many businesspersons,” said Nancy Kang’ethe, who lost all her stock. “This is not fair at all. They should at least have told us. We just saw our structures being demolished.”
The demolition is part of the countrywide crackdown by KeNHA aimed at reclaiming grabbed by private developers,’ said another trader. It is also aimed at increasing visibility for motorists.
KeNHA through the Transport ministry intends to mark all road reserves boundaries to deter future encroachment. A worker at KeNHA, who declined to be named, said the authority is exercising its core mandate of managing national trunk roads and road reserves and access to roadside development.