Tenants who occupied houses without paying for them during post-election violence in most parts of Nairobi have agreed to surrender the houses to the owners.
The residents of Kiambiu, Mathare, Korogocho and Kibera slums have agreed to return the houses that do not belong to them in the spirit of reconciliation, healing and national cohesion.
The tenants agreed towards unity after a series of dialogue initiated by the Kenya Tuna Uwezo (KTU) civil society group in partnership with Peace Net Kenya, spanning over the past five years.
Peace Net Chief Executive Stephen Kirimi said promoting peace, understanding and national healing can only be achieved through genuine dialogue.
“Some of the youths occupying these houses cannot identify the owners since these houses were seized by individuals during violent conflict and sold or rented to other third parties. But they are now willing to return the properties,” said Kirimi.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting with the stakeholders at a Nairobi hotel, Kirimi said alternative housing for individuals that are voluntarily willing to surrender houses is a challenge since most of those who seized houses are jobless and if they have to move out, other landlords may not allow them to occupy their houses for fear of foregoing rent.
Limited spaces to construct houses to accommodate those families willing to surrender houses they have been living in for the last 12 years is a major challenge and an emotive issue that must be solved amicably to avoid bloodshed.
“Some structure owners were assaulted during the violent conflicts and to date, they fear coming back to negotiate with the tenants, some people had equally moved out of Kiambiu fearing for their lives,” added Kirimi.
Kiambiu is a trust land hence no individual can fully claim its ownership, plot owners were only issued with space, which was politicised. Despite holding allotment letters, the property owners cannot access their houses.
According to Kirimi, through the mapping exercise, the owners of the contentious structures had been identified through the help of the provincial administrator’s office and cohesion champions.
Acting on behalf of both tenants and structure owners, KTU team have been constantly negotiation to ensure that sustainable agreement is reached by both parties.
Representatives of both tenants and landlords have been given a chance to own the process of handing over houses, which has helped to enhance their relationship.