It’s not unusual for the Msimbazi river valley to fill with floodwater, but recent rains have hit hard for residents of the valley whose homes are now a pile of rubble.
Dozens of victims of a recent demolition exercise to clear the high-risk floodplain of illegally built homes are still squatting in the rubble-strewn valley.
Displaced resident Amina Chamitti, 51, told the Citizen that Wednesday morning’s downpour felt like it lasted a whole year.
“It was cold, it was wet,” says Chamitti, a grandmother who weathered the storm in a tent near the rubble of her former home.
“My house was nice. The day they demolished my house, I was not around. I nearly had a heart attack,” says 61-year-old Athumani Omari, clutching his recently acquired medication.
“I couldn’t save anything,” says Omari, who lived in the valley since 1985.
“We were still paying rent and taxes every year. If the government thought this wasn’t the right place to stay, why did they bring all that infrastructure,” says Juma Mwelomwe.
“It’s forbidden for people to set up and establish settlement in open space or along water sources and sea coastlines,” says William Lukuvi, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements.
“We shall not humiliate persons but we shall equally not allow those who have invaded places [which are] not safe for human settlement,” says Lukuvi, speaking to the Guardian.
The demolition exercise by the National Environment Management Council, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements and the Kinondoni Municipal Council has been temporarily halted due to an ongoing legal battle with residents.