Sh1 billion housing projects hang in the balance

An open manhole along Kenyatta avenue in = Nakuru town on November 19, 2018. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
The county government has been given six months to use a Sh1 billion urban development grant from the World Bank.

Nakuru and Naivasha received Sh741 million and Sh344 million respectively for their upgrade.

The projects are part of efforts to help Nakuru town earn city status, officials said.

But residents have rejected some of the projects the county government is planning to undertake using the money.

The residents claimed they were not involved in decisions concerning the projects, as provided for in the Constitution under the principle of public participation.

For instance, the proposal to upgrade Moi Flats has been opposed by tenants, who have accused the county government of hatching a scheme to evict them.

They took to the streets in protest and vowed not to allow anyone to kick them out. The said they were not involved in the decisions on the estate's planned upgrade.

Nakuru Tenants Association Chairman Newton Akanga accused the government of passing crucial policies without involving residents.

"We have just learnt about the grant and the plan to upgrade Moi Flats. There was no public participation," Mr Akanga said.

He claimed that the buildings, housing 59 families, were in good condition and demolishing them without a proper plan would be detrimental to the tenants.

Nakuru was among the 59 urban centres that benefited from the grants.

Other projects the county is planning to undertake but which have been met with protests over the alleged failure of the local authority to involve residents include upgrading the Afraha Stadium and establishing a fire station and a storm water drainage system.

However, Lands Executive Francis Mwangi insisted that there had been public participation and that the projects were agreed on.

"We have a very short time within which we must decide on the projects to be undertaken and start working on them. We are look at projects that will take less time, especially those that are critical but have some structures already in place," said Mr Mwangi.

He added: "There was public participation where everyone was invited. However, we are still open to receive more suggestions.

"I also wish to make something clear: We are not evicting anyone, as has been claimed. We only plan to utilise the open spaces between the phases to put up high-rise buildings as we seek to address the challenge of limited housing in the county.

"It is unfortunate that some people are coming up to oppose some of the projects after the government succeeded in securing an investor."

Mwangi said a technical committee was still assessing proposals made during public participation forums and was open to receive more.

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urban development grantWorld BankHousing project