Five years ago, nobody wanted to live in Gachie as insecurity rocked the neighbourhood. Today, property investors are scrambling for land to develop, writes ERIC WAINAINA
When real estate developments on the outskirts of Nairobi began a few years ago, Gachie and Kihara remained stagnant due to insecurity.
Some locals abandoned their beautiful homes as a result of perennial attacks by gun wielding criminals, and were afraid of returning. The two areas produced some of the most notorious criminals in the country such as Matheri and Mungiki extortionists. This put off property developers and other investors. Property prices also remained down despite the area bordering prime Runda and Gigiri suburbs.
But fear among the investors seem to be over, thanks to restored security. Someone who had visited these area five years ago would, today, not believe it’s the same place. A tour of the areas by Home and Way showed that rental flats and palatial homes are quickly coming up.
Investors are turning what was previously farming parcels of land into concrete jungles, leading to an increase of property prices.
Roslyne Estate, a gated community comprising palatial homes, stands near Gachie. After its completion, property rates around rose to more than Sh20 million a plot. This has directly impacted property prices in Gachie and Kihara, which are now witnessing an unprecedented growth.
Modern storey flats are the new face of Gachie. People working in neighbouring Gigiri, Unep and Nairobi city centre have provided adequate market for the new houses, giving the sector a boom in the area.Locals say improved security has led to the massive developments in the area. Mungai Kimani, a resident of Gachie, says the insecurity history associated with the area caused a major dent in the area’s development record.
“Honestly, no investor would come to a place, which was ever in the headlines for insecurity. Nobody wanted to buy land here before and even some locals fled due to insecurity,” said Mungai.
However, he said this has changed for the better. Property investors are fast changing the face of the area, which was previously characterised by wooden and iron sheet walled houses.
“We have people building houses to let and people are renting them. We even have investors purchasing plots to put up residential houses,” he said. The area is under Gigiri Police Division and has two police posts, Gachie and Kihara, as well as administration police officers under a District Officer.
Paul Kimani, an investor in the housing sector, agrees that insecurity hindered development in the area. When he built rental houses a few years ago, the occupancy level was always around 20 per cent. This has since changed and he has built another flat.
“We have had to do a lot of work to convince other investors that Gachie and Kihara are good places to invest. It was not easy, but I can say things have greatly improved,” he said.
Flats are not only coming up in areas near Gachie and Kihara shopping centres, but also in areas extending to Karura, Ndenderu, Wangige and King’eero, which had also been previously ignored by investors because of insecurity.
Property agents say improved security as well as congestion in other parts of Nairobi and Kiambu have pushed investors to the area.
John Mwaniki, the director at Jeckmas Services, a property agency with interests in Kiambu and Nairobi, says the completion of the Northern By-pass too, has spurred developments.
As one drives from Ruaka to Gachie via Limuru Road, you will encounter fully occupied modern highrise flats. The area has good tarmac roads, power connection and water supply.
Mwaniki also says after property prices in other parts of Kiambu went up, most people started trooping to Gachie where property prices were still relatively low.
Gachie and Kihara are located about 15 kilometres from Nairobi, hence becoming a considered dormitory from the capital, which is already congested. A drive from Gachie to Nairobi’s CBD takes between 20 minutes and 30 minutes. From Gachie, one can access Thika Road and Mombasa Road, Kiambu, Ruiru via the Northern bypass without going to Nairobi like it was before.
This makes it convenient for investors who own houses in the area to easily access their places of work anywhere in Kiambu and Nairobi.
Philip Wachira, who recently relocated to the area from Kahawa Sukari on Thika superhighway says: “Before I moved here, I first established that security was good and that many people live here, meaning it is a good place.”
A one-bedroom house in Gachie goes for between Sh6,000 and Sh12,000 per month, whereas the rent for a two-bedroom flat ranges from Sh14,000 to Sh23,000, and between Sh12,000 and Sh18,000 in Kihara. Land prices have also skyrocketed.