Nairobi's Sh300b housing project fails to take off

An artists' impression of the houses to be built by the county government to replace old estates in the Nairobi.

A Sh300 billion housing project that aimed to create an additional 14,000 housing units in Nairobi has hit a snag.

City Hall confirmed a delay in documentation at the National Land Commission offices and compensation issues had stalled the process.

"For the process to kick off, there needs to be financial closure, which cannot happen unless documentation on compensation has been finalised," said Urban Housing Renewal Executive Tom Odongo.

He said compensation claims, which last year amounted to Sh8 billion, was a key issue since the residents wanted to be paid to look for alternative accommodation with specifications similar to those of the units they currently occupy.

Mr Odongo, however, revealed that not all tenants would have to relocate for the renewal to take place in areas such as Pangani.

He said where relocation was a must, the county would pay tenants the equivalent of their rent for 12 months.

"This will, however, be less the amount they are paying us monthly and after the project is complete, they will be given first priority for the houses. They can, however, choose to come back as tenants or buy the houses," added Odongo.

The first phase of the project in which 14,000 units are to be constructed for a whopping Sh70 billion, was to begin in January last year but the date was moved to July. It was further moved forward due to delays in documentation.

The houses will be in Old and New Ngara, Pangani, Jeevanjee-Bachelors, Ngong Road Inspectorate staff quarters, Uhuru and Suna Road.

The project is expected to take 24 months.

According to information relayed by City Hall, Ngong Road estate will be transformed into 360 three-bedroom units, 1,440 two-bedroom and 720 one-bedroom units.

Additionally, the 24-storey Old Ngara (Fort Jesus) estate will be transformed into 120 three-bedroom units, 480 two-bedroom flats and 240 one-bedroom apartments.

Older estates such as Bahati, Mbotela, Ziwani, Makongeni, Kaloleni, Jericho and Shauri Moyo will be demolished and redeveloped to accommodate more people.

Governor Evans Kidero had last year said only 535 houses in the estates were targeted in the first phase.

Urban Planning and Renewal chief officer Rose Muema said the setting up of a low-cost housing scheme would help address the issue of budding slums and insecurity.

"These houses are very old and were constructed horizontally, occupying a lot of space," he said.

Meanwhile, more than 260 motorcycles impounded by the county government for flouting county by-laws were yesterday released back to their owners.

This follows a meeting held last week between boda boda operators and Governor Kidero.

Kidero had also ordered the legal department to drop all legal cases against the motorbike owners.

County Secretary Robert Ayisi yesterday morning released the motorbikes to the riders drawn from over 20 Saccos.