When I visited Kimara and Kibamba along Morogorogo road recently, I did not dare ask anyone I greeted how they were (how are you?) since their faces said it all. They were not fine.
They were not okay. While some were still collecting whatever remains they could get hold of from their demolished houses, others just sat on the rubble, their faces sad, as they contemplated on what the future held.
More than 300 houses and business premises were recently demolished in Kimara and Kibamba. In Kiluvya about 200 houses built within 120 metres from Morogoro road are also earmarked for demolition.
In Kimara and Kibamba, more than 700 houses and business premises are also awaiting demolition by the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) to pave the way for the construction of a six-lane highway. The exercise will not spare health facilities or petrol stations built along the road.
Since the demolitions started over a fortnight ago, a lot has changed in the lives of the former residents who have been rendered homeless. They have been left out in the cold without a place to call home. Some have found temporary shelter in their neighbours’ houses, some have temporarily moved in with their relatives elsewhere while others have remained where their houses used to stand, having no place to go to.
News too hard to bear
Desperation, despair, fatigue were written all over their faces as they d their ordeal to Sound Living. Those who had businesses in the area no longer have means to earn income but just laze around counting their losses.
Juma Kassimu’s four-room house is among the 200 houses in Kiluvya that await demolition any time. The 77-year-old father of six suffered a stroke the moment he received notice from Tanroads a month ago informing him of the upcoming demolition.
The resident of Kiluvya Gogoni in Kisarawe District has since been bed ridden. He spends his time in bed and has to be assisted in everything.
His wife, Farida Mikashikashi says her husband could not bear the sad news that required the family to vacate the house in which they had lived for over 20 years.
“Soon after he was handed the demolition notice, he kept complaining on how we would survive. He fell the following day and suffered a stroke. He has since never left his bed and his condition has been deteriorating by the day,” says Farida.
I met this family on Monday and was informed by Kassimu’s wife on Thursday that her husband had been admitted at Muhimbili hospital on Tuesday.
Kassimu is worried about where his family will live when their house is finally demolished. What can he do at his age? What hurts him most is the fact that he used his retirement benefits to build the house. He was an employee of the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited.
“Seeing how things changed in a second hurts Kassimu a lot. His situation brings so much sadness in the family as we too are no longer happy as we used to be. We spend a lot of time in silence to let him rest,” says Farida.
She says her family depends on house rent from their tenants and that although their children have jobs, they are not in a position to support their parents financially.
Aboubakary Yusuph, also a resident of Gogoni in Kiluvya is among those whose homes will be demolished. He says soon after they received the demolition notice from Tanroads, the residents formed a group to protest the exercise of which he is the secretary.
“I am surprised how things are being done by the government. We took our complaints to court and the high court’s land division ordered Tanroads to stop the demolition of the more than 700 houses along Morogoro Road,” says Yusuph.
The roads agency ignored the order and demolished the houses. Aboubakary says in the 1970’s his parents were ordered to move from rural Kiluvya to live closer to town centres where it would be easier to get social services.
“It was during socialism where it was not easy to get social services in the villages due to geographical isettings. The exercise created a lot of tension as our parents were not ready to start a new life elsewhere. I wonder how the same government has now decided to demolish people’s houses after they were made to move closer to town centres,” Yuspuh laments. This he says undermines the voiceless.
Zainab Mkuye, 35, a resident of Kimara Bakery and her family members have been living outside since their house was demolished. Zainab is a mother of one child who is both physically and mentally disabled and needs constant care.
She recalls the demolition day as one of the
worst days of her life. Though they had been given a month’s notice by Tanroads, they just relaxed thinking the demolition would take long to be effected.
Her family had lived in the five-rooms house for the past 35 years and used to earn some cash through rent from their tenants. Today all their properties are outside where the family of five lives, with a piece of canvas serving as their roof. All her family members squeeze themselves on the couches at night and depend on a fire for warmth.
“My son Emmanuel, 6, is disabled as you can see. There is nothing he can do on his own. I do everything for him and yet there is no place for us to lay our heads,” says Zainab.
Living out in the cold
Since she cannot go out to work due to the health complications of her son, Zainab who used to sell charcoal at home has nothing to do to earn money at the moment.
She thanks God that their toilet was not demolished and it has really been of great help as it is where they change their clothes.
Zainab calls upon the government to consider the fact that some of those affected by the demolitions have lived in the area for decades and therefore should support them in any way.
“I am not against development but I think it would be fair if the government could at least give us plots to build new houses after all this. Making people who voted those in power live a desperate life like this is not fair,” says Zaynab.
Yusuph Mwinyimvua, 42, a Kimara Suka resident is sad because the demolition left him jobless. He was employed at a milling machine where he had worked for the past ten years.
Because of the demolition, he is currently making between Sh8,000 and Sh12,000 a day for arranging the remains of the bricks and windows as his boss prepares to build another office.
“It is not easy for me to feed my family of five with the little money I am making. I have no choice but to accept the little I am getting as I wait for the new office to be built,” says Mwinyimvua.
Tabu Seleman, 67, is a widow and a resident of Kimara Suka whose family too spends the night in the cold. She lives with her three grandchildren and two of her children. Her two houses were demolished.
Since she cannot manage to pay people to arrange bricks for her some of her belongings are still buried under the rubble. In her area, thieves come at night to steal the remaining properties of the demolition victims.
“Since my house was demolished, it has been easy for thieves to do their job as all we have left is out in the open. There has not been a single day that we slept without chasing thieves who have been trying to steal from us. I just wonder for how long we are going to live like this,” Tabu wonders.
Tabu says she had a hard time after receiving Tanroads notice and after her house was marked with an X. Two out of her five tenants wanted her to refund them their rent money so they could find another pace to live after learning the house would be demolished.
She had already spent the money and did not know what to do. They kept asking for their money until when Tanroads came to demolish her houses. The tenants just left without a word.