After a few of my trips to Kibera, I had a meeting with the Executive Director of Pamoja Trust. The venue was at the Pamoja office, a large, nice house - a stark contrast to the realities of the community set to be disrupted by the Relocation Action Plan.
The meeting was what I expected. I walked away with some greater understanding of some aspects of the plan, while some of my questions set the Director in a defensive posture. In general, it was nice to get a varied point of view, as the elusive Pamoja Trust is so entrenched in this process.
I do think that the RAP is workable; though I know involuntary resettlement is not ideal for the community. The problem is, this development project is going to happen regardless. The Government is set on their Kenya Vision 2030, and improved railroad infrastructure is a large component of that…they want increased freight, they want faster transit times, they want a light commuter rail. And although after seven years of waiting, it may seem like the community is calling KRC’s bluff, my impression is that it is inevitable. So why not try to get the most out of the resettlement as possible?
It seems like the Kibera option is not too shabby. The people will be resettled in a three-story structure built along a wall, 20 meters out from the track. While they will have less space in terms of meters, they will have more dependable shelter, facilities, and a better walkway. Granted, there are still some glaring holes in the plan, such as funding, specifications, and in particular, what will happen to the schools and children. If the communities can focus on the aspects that were glossed over, I think they can really leverage the Government and KRC to get a favorable situation.
When my host in Kenya came back from leave, he told me he had heard an interview with a Project Affected Person on the BBC. So after some research, I found the BBC has run a few articles about the railroad expansion, here and here. I must thank my host for catching my slack.
Additionally, one of my last times in Kibera before the violence, I was able to capture a really really short (we’re talking two cars and an engine) train rumbling through. I wish I could have gathered more footage from the area, mainly of the people and of the interactions between the community and the trains, but that will be a job for the next fellow…my advice: Start forging the relationships early!
But here is the 5-second video of a train in Kibera-Kisumu Ndogo.