Dream of owning land and houses turns into painful wait for group

Urithi Housing Cooperative clients’ chairperson Rose Ndung’u (third right) leads a protest over delays to complete housing units in Joska paid for in 2016. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

When Rose Ndung’u decided to actualise her dreams of becoming a house owner. She and a group of more than 300 individuals set out to look for a development plan that could suit their earnings.

The group approached Urithi Housing and Co-operative Society to offer them an affordable plan that could suit their needs.

Since Saccos charge relatively low rates than commercial banks she says she saw it as a golden opportunity for her family to have a home. The team settled on a development called Osten Terrace Gardens on Kangundo road in Nairobi.

“I went for the Sacco because they did not have accrued interests. I was also told I would receive the keys to my new home in one year. To me, this was a golden opportunity to say goodbye to my landlord,” said Ms Ndungu.

The project was commissioned in June 2016 with the list plan costing 1.6 to 3.25 million for a two bed-roomed apartment respectively. The project sits on a 10 acre piece of land and is valued at about Sh500 million.

But three years down the line, Ndung’u and other investors are a disgruntled lot following what they claim to be slow pace of the project. Ndung’u, who also serves as the chairperson of the group of developers faults the Sacco for not providing the much needed homes on time.

Not received title deeds

When the Sunday Standard team visited the projects on Kangundo road, we were confronted with sights of uncompleted buildings and a few workers trying to hide from our cameras. Dejected members gathered in groups, recounting their misery.

Jane Njeri had taken the gamble quite seriously, investing in three projects: “I invested in Juja Gem Mantionate, Ruiru Ridges and now Osten Terrace Gardens but none seems to be forthcoming,” Njeri said.

She added that she had not received her title deeds despite having paid 85 per cent of the amount charged. Similar sentiments were shared by Simon Njeru who paid Sh1 million but to date has not received any documentation despite having the proof of payment.

“I took a loan to finance this project but now I am wondering if it was the best idea. Even if I had deposited the amount in a bank I could have had a huge interest,” Mr Njeru said.

The disgruntled investors now say they have given the management of the society a notice to embark on the completion of the project.

Samuel Maina, the chairman of Urithi acknowledges that there have been a lot of challenges affecting the sector. He admitted that the society was struggling to put its house in order and pleaded for patience among members.

He said the society was a non-profit-making organisation and was grappling with challenges of house approvals and high cost of building materials. “This project was founded on the principle of an ordinary Kenyan owning a house. Last year and the year before the real estate industry has not been good at all,”Mr Maina said.

He cited varying members contribution as among other challenges the Sacco was grappling with amid tight deadlines. Maina also admitted that the company did not hold regular meetings with the members, fearing that such meetings would create panic among the members. “You cannot call people regularly if you don’t offer solutions,” he said.

He added that with the recent occurrences, the society was looking forward to changing the model of allocation of homes. If the members pass the proposals, each member will only be allocated a house after paying an agreed amount decided by the members.

On other projects like Olive 3 and 4 in Juja, he said the society was enjoined in a court case pitting the original owner and a third party. “We have agreed to settle the Olive 3 and 4 out of court and the members will soon have their titles,” said Maina said.