Street families back in city centre

By: MUCHEMI WACHIRA

Street families that had been locked up at a rehabilitation centre in Nairobi ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to the country have been allowed to leave.

Most of them are now back to their usual hideouts in the city centre where they had been rounded up to ensure security during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

The families, mainly comprising street men, had been rounded up by the National Youth Service personnel and city county askaris more than a week ago.

They were locked up at Woodley Estate’s Joseph Kang’ethe Community Centre, which is owned by the Nairobi County Government.

Yesterday, the community centre was almost empty after the homeless were allowed to leave.

“We only have a few of those who volunteered to stay with us and enjoy free food and accommodation,” one of the workers told Nation.

He said the street people who agreed to remain at the centre are the sickly ones unable to withstand the cold July weather.

“Some have been wearied out after taking hard drugs and lethal brews and they can hardly walk, leave alone do casual jobs,” said the worker.

When Daily Nation visited the centre yesterday, there were less than 20 street people there and some appeared too weak to walk on their own.

The centre had been under 24-hour guard when President Obama was in the country to prevent the street people from escaping.

They were not even allowed to venture outside a hall where they had been confined.

They only gained freedom after President Obama left the country. “Some of them (the street boys) were dangerous and after they left, we no longer needed to keep guard,” said one of the askaris.

The centre provides the homeless families with food and beddings.

A number of former street people have been residing at the centre. They attend various primary schools in the area.

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said the county had partnered with the national government to address the problems facing the street families.