It is a reprieve for 522 tenants forcefully evicted from the old Buxton Estate in Mombasa in 2021 after the Senate ordered the county government to allocate them new housing units.
Senators adopted a report of the Standing Committee on Roads, Transport and Housing that recommended that the county allocates its share of 184 housing units to the former tenants or petitioners.
The report also observes that the Buxton Housing Redevelopment Project does not conform to the framework of the affordable housing programme of the national government.
The affordable housing project was initiated by former Mombasa Hassan Joho, who once defended the plan before the Senate committee.
The report was tabled in the Senate by Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna on November 2, following a petition by the former Buxton tenants led by the lobby deputy secretary general John Tsuma, dated March 10, 2023.
The 184 units represent 10 per cent of the 1,840 units developed by the Buxton Point Apartments Limited after leasing land from the county government.
The contractor has completed phase one of the Sh6 billion units in the former Buxton estate in Mvita sub-county, Mombasa County. The Senate said the project was a joint venture agreement signed between the Mombasa County government and Gulf Cap Africa Investment Partners Limited.
On March 5, 2021, the tenants were evicted from Buxton estate by the county government inspectorate personnel to pave the way for the re-development of the estate.
The old tenants had been given Sh240,000 to relocate and allowed to buy the new housing units but complained that they could not afford them because most of them were not salaried.
In the report, the Senate committee recommended that the State Department of Housing and Mombasa county government develop a mechanism to ensure the remaining 336 tenants acquire units in Buxton estate through a tenant purchase scheme under the National Housing Fund and submit a report within 60 days.
"The county government of Mombasa should allocate its share of 184 units to the former tenants/petitioners," says the report in part.
The committee noted that the county government negotiated with the developer for a lower number of housing units compared to the initial 522 units that former tenants were to benefit from.
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"The negotiations for a tenant purchase scheme for home ownership by the petitioners should have been undertaken before the commencement of the project," the committee stated.
The team observed that the legal representation of the rights and benefits of the petitioners at the point of signing the relocation agreement was weak.
"The right to acquire units by the petitioners under affordable terms was the responsibility of the county government and not from the developer," the committee observed.
The committee noted that the Ministry of Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development verified that plot number Mombasa/Block XVII/1821, measuring approximately 4.905 hectares or 12.1205 acres, was leased to Buxton Point Apartment Limited for a term of 99 years.
The ministry estimated the current market value for the land at Sh1.212 billion.
The committee recommended that all public-private partnerships of housing agreements in the country should be made public to address issues of non-disclosure that affect members of the public.
The team led by Kiambu Senator Karungo Thangwa recommended that the national and county governments should agree before undertaking housing developments.
''Land valuation should be a requirement for all housing projects and be undertaken before advertisement for bidding for the project to ensure that the county government gets value for its property during negotiations for its stake in the project," said the report.