My Opinion | Aug 29,2020
Mar 25 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at email@example.com. )
A few months ago, homelessness became of families with kids, the elderly and people with disability whose homes were demolished while they were asleep as seen on a media platform.
One of the victims was filled with tears narrating how she worked in the Middle East for years to save up enough money to buy a house thinking living in her country was better than a foreign land. She set up a small grocery nearby and supports her family. It was all gone in an instant.
Something that stuck with me is that she no longer feels like this is her country as refugees are invited to stay while citizens were being kicked out of their residences and left on the streets.
"Where would we go if we can’t find a place to call home?” she asked. Indeed, that is a good question. The least humane thing to do would have been to give these people some kind of makeshift homes for safety.
We have become desensitized to suffering at this point, anything worse is just going to be a brick that breaks the camel's back.
Some of these houses may have been built illegally, and perhaps the government gave multiple notices for relocation. However, there is no excuse for knocking down a house while the people are inside.
There is always a beautiful and gracious building erected when I pass by the Bole area. It is as if they were at the bottom of the sea and finally afloat.
Perhaps this is not exclusive to Bole. The number of buildings in the city has increased tremendously and before we know it, Addis Abeba is going to look similar to the major cities in the world.
On the other hand, some of the sites at the heart of the capital are abandoned after the demolition with no construction done for a long time. They have become a criminal hub and hideout place for gangs.
How the people who lost their homes to investors cope with the loss and whether they are getting any real benefits other than a dream city remains a paradox.
I recall that my relatives were relocated from the kebele house they shared a toilet and outside kitchen with four other residents. Although they lost lifelong neighbours, they upgraded their lifestyle to living in a condominium house with its own kitchen and bathroom.
Whether all of the people will be getting compensation remains a question, but the estimation for the ones that do is ridiculously low these days as money lost its purchasing power.
A one-room small house my friend's relatives used to live in was going to get demolished and they were offered a 100,000 Br. A house would have been bought or built with that amount back in the day but that is not the reality now. It will probably last them a year in a rented house but nothing more.
The land is not privatised, giving the government the right to claim any place in the name of development. However, the reimbursement to settle down elsewhere is not serving as practical.
Some would argue the government is being far more generous with its offer, given the condition of the houses. But the money has lost its value while construction materials have gone up.
People would rather keep their houses, no matter how shabby than get unsuitable compensation and worry about paying rent for the rest of their lives.
PUBLISHED ON Mar 25,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1195]
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