24 August 2011

Oh no, not now!

This morning many families are sad. Their source of livelihood is no more thanks to the nocturnal demolitions of the Nairobi City council around Donholm. It is a desperate mood all over the area. Imagine waking up to go and open your small business to find everything including your stock in disarray.

True, these people might have encroached on land meant for the road expansion. They might not have taken seriously eviction notices from the city council. Some of the notices might date  to years back. And yes these small traders know that they operate on space that does not belong to them. But to come and find all their investments spread all over, while they sleep? It is nothing short of inhuman. How, then do these people put a meal on their table especially considering the upward movement of all basic commodities? Sugar is now retailing at shs.385 for two kilos, while a few months ago the same cost Shs.205.

Perhaps the best approach might have been for the council, after serving notice to the traders, to erect a sign near the stalls reading 'These stalls are due for demolition on August 24th 2011. Please vacate before then'. In which case, no one would come up and claim ignorance of the demolition as it would be visible to public and all.

I spoke to  one of the longest existing trader with a small duka for the past 10 years. He had this resigned look as he told me that that was the norm of the city council. He had a distant look as he told his story. You see, he is a family man, with children in high school. I left him, but my heart went out to his and other families that will have to come to terms with the new turn of events. I also noticed some angry looking youths, surveying the damage and speaking in low tones. Helplessness was the mood on their faces.

There are ways that serve to crush a people's spirit. Then desperation sets in. When that happens, none of us is safe. Not to mentions the lives that are directly affected by these actions. All the people affected by this will have to find an alternative source of income. Some methods, not so good. Perhaps then, an alternative might have been provided for these people. So that they can go on making a living for themselves.

I appreciate that the demolitions might be to make way for development of a better road network. That the City council might be acting within it's legal measures. But their way of doing so leaves a lot to be desired. I wonder, did the person mauling the kiosks  pause to think of his actions? Or he reasoned that what has to be done has to be done?

I feel for the way we as a country deal with the issues at hand. Perhaps we have lost the human touch in our dealings with one another. This should be a concern for all because what affects some will affect us all. It is a dangerous trend for a country people to be treated so inhumanly by those in authority. Yet these authorities should serve the very people. I believe that there is a better way of passing across the message. After all, society identifies with leaders and authority that can come down to their level and reason with it. It is indeed a sad day for the traders around Donholm and for all their dependants.

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