By Augustine Oduor
The Kibera Slum Upgrading Programme may remain a mirage as details emerge that beneficiaries of the scheme have rented their rooms and returned to live in the slum.
Others have turned their rooms into business premises where they are operating kiosks and selling illicit brews.
Housing PS Tirop Kosgey yesterday admitted the programme is facing new challenges as residents continue to breach tenancy agreements they signed. He said tenants found the rooms so attractive that they chose to turn them into money-minting ventures.
"They sublet the rooms at a higher fee. They then pay us Sh1,000, which is inclusive of power and water," he said.
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Surrender their houses
Kosgey said allowing people from the upper class to occupy the rooms goes against the spirit of providing better housing to the poor.
"The basis of slum upgrading does not allow people to surrender their houses to others who may not be badly off. We will not allow that to happen," he said. The PS, who spoke as he toured the houses, said he was shocked by the practice.
"If they sublet and sneak back into the slum, then we may not achieve the goal of improving the living standards in slum dwellers," he said.
He added that the ministry had enhanced the lives residents by relocating them to the houses.
Residents of the new units however accused the ministry of forceful evictions. They said ministry officials have targeted specific persons for evictions to create room for others.
But the PS said tenants who sublet their rooms, engage in violence or in illicit businesses will be evicted.
"We are checking the houses to ensure the right people benefit from the project. If we let people from the upper class take over the units, we may never eliminate slums," he said.
He added: "We get cases every week. We follow the law during eviction exercises. We will support those who lived in the slums and not those who have money," he said.
The Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (Kensup) started in Kibera in 2003. It was sponsored by the UN-Habitat and the Kenya Government.
The initiative involved putting up permanent flats for hundreds of slum dwellers. Residents were allocated the decent houses, that went for Sh1,000 a month, the money inclusive of water and electricity bills.
Some residents, mainly Nubians, who claim to be the true inhabitants of Kibera refused to move from their houses for fear of losing the rent they charge.