Sh200 billion Mombasa housing project to go on

Mombasa County Governor Hassan Ali Joho (right) is welcomed by some of the ward development committee members when he arrived at his Kizingo office to officially launch the Sub-County and Ward Development Committees, March 19, 2016. Joho said the work of the sub-county and ward development committee members will be to oversee all county projects within the villages. PHOTO BY GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD].
The Sh200 billion Mombasa County project to redevelop ten old estates will go on as planned, Governor Hassan Joho has said.

He said despite opposition from some quarters, the project was unstoppable and it would benefit the affected residents. “Some tenants have threatened to go to court over the project but I assure them that they will also benefit from the project. Those who will be told to vacate as the houses are being built will have their house rent paid by the county government,” he said.

Mr Joho disclosed that the first phase of the project “will begin immediately.” The ambitious project has faced stiff opposition from some current tenants and politicians who have complained that those to be affected were not consulted.

Vested interests

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On Tuesday, Mombasa County Executive Member for Lands Anthony Njaramba claimed that certain politicians with investments in real estate were inciting opposition to the refurbishment of the ten estates and an additional new estate in Mombasa’s six sub counties.

Mr Njaramba (pictured) claimed that Mombasa politician Suleiman Shahbal was planning to go court to stop the process. On Wednesday, Mr Shahbal joined hundreds of demonstrators from Khadija Estate terming the project a “theft by privatisation” saying residents of the affected estates had not been consulted.

Shahbal said even though the targeted estates were rundown, a proposed face lift should have been done in a proper manner.

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“We’re not opposed to refurbishment of the estates but then there has to be proper consultations,” said Shahbal. He said it was not clear how the residents would benefit from the project the county government has said will involve private developers putting up 27,000 more units from the current 3,000 units.

“If necessary we will go to court to ensure the project is done in the right way,” said Shahbal.

He went on: “I’m not in the real estate business and saying that I’m opposed to the project because my interests are threatened is just but a diversionary tactic. We need to see development but with a human face,” said the politician, who is a bitter critic of the Joho administration since losing the 2013 gubernatorial race.

Despite the stiff opposition, Njaramba and Governor Joho have maintained that the current tenants will be given the first priority to own the new apartment blocks. During a meeting with bidders and estate leaders at White Sands Hotel two weeks ago, Joho said Mombasa’s current population of 1.3 million people requires a reorganisation of housing units to accommodate the growing numbers. He further said tenants would be issued with a 99-year ownership lease after completion of the mortgage.

“The current demand for housing in Mombasa stands at 25,000 units per year against an annual supply of 4,000 units,” said the governor.

Njaramba said the plan by the county to increase the apartment blocks to 30,000 from the current 3,000 is meant to reduce the housing shortage. “Having 100 units on an 18 acre piece of land means each apartment block occupies an eighth of an acre, a land size that can house several apartment blocks,” he said.

The lead transaction advisor for the project, Saili Malonza who spoke during the Tuesday’s breakfast meeting said the project which will see 30,000 units put up at a cost of Sh200 billion will help low income earners including the current tenants buy the houses at an affordable price.

Malonza said the price slash for the refurbished houses and new apartments blocks was occasioned by the fact that the county government was providing land.

“Buying a house is an expensive venture due to the prohibitive price of land. But in the case of this project, the county government will not only provide land but will also engage bidders to propose the cheapest price of putting up the apartments,” explained Malonza.

The 10 estates earmarked for redevelopment include Khadija Estate, Miritini Greenfield, Changamwe Estate, Tudor Estate, Mzizima Estate and Buxton Estate. Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya organising secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said: “Let the bidders meet the occupants of the houses and agree on issues of rent and how to improve the houses,” said Sheikh Khalifa.

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