Residents of Yeka Sub city, where one of the few surviving forests in Addis Ababa has been preserved, have vehemently expressed their frustrations over the City Administration, as a real estate developer began to clear down 40,000 square meters of woodland, warning dozens of evictions, The Reporter has learnt.
The forestry on the hillsides of Megenaga area on top of Bellevue Hotel is getting cleared and according to residents, the party behind it is a private real estate developer.
Shambel Ezezew, a resident of the Yeka hillside neighborhood told The Reporter that the Yeka trees are about to be cleared and some 17 residents have received verbal orders of evictions.
Last week, members of the Yeka Neighborhood Association including those who have received eviction notices, have met to discuss their fate and the intrusion of a private developer, who they claim have jeopardized their rights and has unlawfully begun to clear the forest. Appeals made by the residents to authorities to intervene and stop the dreadful forest destruction, fell on deaf ears.
The residents claim that many of the trees are native species and have estimated that the woods are 30 to 40 years old. Some upset tenants not only have pleaded to the authorities to intervene but have also documented videos of the cleared forest and posted the images on websites and social media outlets of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Addis Ababa. Sadly, when both offices failed to respond, they sought to reach out to the media.
Many of the 17 homeowners, during their meeting told The Reporter that they do not have any quarrel, if the government decides to have a development plan around the area but demanded they also have equal rights to live in that locality. Some claimed to receive verbal eviction notice and was barred from building a house on a piece of land recently bought.
However, Tsehay Bogale, the owner of Berhan Goh, the real estate developer told The Reporter that the landholding was legally obtained and licensed to the company in 2006. The title deeds and holding rights have been reinstated recently with the Mayor’s office approval, the owner said. Tsehay argued that native trees were not cleared except for eucalyptus species.
Officials of the Addis Abab City Administration Land Development and Urban Renewal Agency under the Land Development and Management Bureau, and the Press Secretariat of the Office of the Mayor failed to respond to requests for comments. The Reporter was told that the responsible officials were off-duty for trainings and will only be available next week.