It is late Saturday afternoon and Geoffrey Mong’are leans on the wall near an open gate at one of the houses he manages in Telaviv area in Embakasi, Nairobi. Wearing a black rain coat, mud-stained gumboots and a faded black cap, Mong’are takes out his phone and makes a call.
“Hello. Wanaenda. Wacha waende tu (They are leaving. Just let them go),” he says, and then looks at the lady, who with the help of a cart puller, is busy loading items onto the carrier parked beside the gate.
Mong’are is one of the many caretakers struggling to convince their tenants to stay. Many tenants are opting to move to other estates with better roads.
The landlords are urging housekeepers like Mong’are to prevent the tenants from moving out before clearing any pending payment, a strategy meant to ensure they stay longer, hoping the weather conditions will improve.
The road to Telaviv estate from Taj Mall on Outer Ring Road gets too muddy and slippery whenever it rains. The story is the same in Pipeline and some parts of New Donholm, Tassia and Fedha estates.
Heavy rains that have been pounding the city and several other parts of the country are wreaking havoc on the business community.
“When it rains, water collects in the potholes, forcing people to use the side-walks, which are slippery. Some end up sliding into the dirty water,” says Mong’are.
He says tenants are blaming the landlords for not convincing the Government to fix the roads. At the same time, his boss expects him to convince the clients to bear with the situation.
“Tenants should complain to us if their rooms have issues and we shall fix them but fixing roads is not within our powers,” he says, noting he cannot force those determined to leave to continue staying.
The tenant, who only gave her name as Janet, said she was moving to Tassia where there were better roads. She said the one-bedroom house she had been occupying was good but that she could not stand the poor state of the road. According to Mong’are, she was the fifth tenant to vacate the building in a span of two weeks.
“It was worse on Thursday. A truck got stuck in the middle of the road and on its right side was a pool of water. I tried using the other side but I slid and fell into a small pool of water near the truck’s underbelly. I had to go back to the house and change the clothes. I used an alternative route which is not any better and got to work late,” she said.
For Janet, the blame lies with the landlords, who she says should liaise with the county government to ensure the roads are repaired.
“I don’t think the landlords care at all otherwise they should have protested to the relevant authorities and demanded action. After all, they pay taxes and their voices should be heard, especially if they unite,” she said before signaling the cart puller to start the journey.
In an adjacent house, the caretaker says some tenants have left while a dozen others have issued notices.
There is a pool of water at the gate leading to the house and big concrete blocks have been placed at strategic points for tenants to hop onto as they navigate into their rooms.
“Water from the road drains here and we can’t stop it. I heard that the county government would improve the road but for now it will be hard to contain the clients,” says Victor Wambua, the building’s caretaker.
Migration of tenants is a blow to small-scale traders in the area. Greengrocers, mobile banking agents and shopkeepers say it will take time before new tenants move in.
“I used to make about Sh1,000 in a day but now I manage only Sh500. My customers have gone,” says Mama Ben, a greengrocer.
The Kenya Meteorological Department has said the rains will continue in many places, including Nairobi, which is likely to receive “generally enhanced” rainfall.
Chairman of the Landlords and Tenants Association of Kenya Joathim Ombui confirmed that there was a massive exit of tenants due to poor roads but blamed both the landlords and the Government for the situation.
“Some house owners do not pay property rates and the Government is poor in resource allocation,” he said.