Civil servants lose battle for State houses

More than 300 civil servants yesterday lost a case to stop the government from ejecting them from State houses in Starehe and Shauri Moyo estates.

This was after the High Court judge Wilfrida Okwany dismissed their application to compel the government to stop the evictions pending the hearing and determination of an appeal they have filed against a decision by judge John Mativo.

The ruling by Okwany has paved the way for the government to construct over 7,000 housing units in Shauri Moyo in Starehe constituency.

Okwany said the applicants had been served with notices to vacate the premises.

“I find the applicants petition to be unmerited and dismissed it, thereby precipitating the notice of appeal,” ruled the judge.

On May 29, Justice Mativo had dismissed their case in which they were seeking orders to overturn a decision by the Ministry of Lands and Housing to evict them.

Mativo ruled that the applicants failed to establish a basis for the court to grant the orders. The applicants had said they stood to suffer losses if the evictions were allowed to continue because 200 school-going children and disabled persons, living in the premises, would be affected by the evictions.

She said the applicants did not also prove that they stood to suffer substantial losses if the stay was not granted.

“The applicants did not demonstrate that they are not able to secure alternative accommodation for themselves and it was not enough for them to merely state that they have school going children and disabled children in the suit premises and that substantial loss will result,” said Okwany.

She added that they needed to prove specific details and particulars regarding the same.

Alternative houses

The group of civil servants, led by Justus Muthumbi and Timothy Wanyanga, wanted the State to give them alternative houses before their homes are demolished.

The applicants said the rent was deducted from their salaries and submitted to the Lands ministry every month.

“The houses are meant for the low-grade civil servants whose house allowance is between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000,” Justus Mathumbi, a tenant, said.

The petitioners also contested that on September 2, 2014, they received notices to vacate dated August 29, 2014 titled: “Proposed Re-development of Starehe Government Estate, Nairobi”and”Proposed Redevelopment of Shauri Moyo Government Estate, Nairobi, to the effect that the said estates had been earmarked for redevelopment by the ministry in partnership with the private sector.

Housing policy

Mariamu El Maawy, the ministry’s then Principle Secretary (now deceased), swore the Replying Affidavit filed on March 10, 2015 saying that the re-development of the Shauri Moyo and Starehe estates was in pursuit of government policy to effect Articles 42 and 43 of the Constitution

The respondent’s case was that they required the applicants to vacate the premises, albeit on a temporary basis, so as to enable them  to put up a government housing project comprising 10,000 housing units which would benefit the applicants and other members of the public.

Stalled project

The project has stalled since its launch in 2014 following the applicant’s refusal to vacate the premises so as to give room for the construction work.

The proposed project would enable civil servants to own homes worth between Sh4 million and Sh25 million to be paid in a period of 20 years.

The investors were to build the units under a public-private partnership in which they would finance construction, operate for some time to recoup their investments and profit before transferring ownership to the State.

In the plan, the government was to provide 40 acres of land for the developers to build low-cost houses in the project dubbed Civil Servants Housing Scheme.

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