Mombasa real estate struggling to stay afloat
SEE ALSO :Birds of paradise“This is not the first time I have lost a good business deal in Kisauni courtesy of the rainy seasons. It is impossible to convince one to buy, leave alone lease a building in the area during this period,” says Somo. He explains that although business is brisk during the dry season, things turn for the worst when the skies open up. A migration begins as residents leave the area in droves. Although Somo has numerous properties he manages within Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties, he says Kisauni has been a tall order. “The drainage and sewerage systems collapse every rainy season. Concern has been raised constantly but the County Government turns a deaf ear. We have reached a stage where it is not wise to invest in real estate in this locality which is unfortunate given its huge potential and close proximity to town,” he says. A walk around several estates in Kisauni during the rainy season vindicate Somo’s sentiments. In Mwandoni area, locals could be seen carrying their property moving to safer areas. Some families had sought refuge in churches and mosques standing on a higher ground, and many children were not going to school. It was the same story in Mshomoroni, Bakarani and Mlaleo areas. A random spot-check indicated that most commercial buildings along the Kisauni Bamburi road and in the estates had ‘vacant’ or ‘to let’ signposts. Some are storey-buildings constructed over five years ago whose owners are now counting losses as they have no hopes of ever recouping their money.
SEE ALSO :Pantone Colour of the Year for 2020“I borrowed Sh30 million from a bank to construct this eight-storey building here. Although it is now complete, I only have five tenants. I have contracted several real estate agents to market the building but they have not been successful. It appears no one wants to live or invest here. It has to do with rampant insecurity and un-ending drainage and sanitation problems,” Mzee Osman Shariff, one of the dozens of Somali businessmen who have invested in the area says. Foreclosure He says his lender has threatened to take over the building to recover the loan advanced to him. “I will let them take it. It is presently of no use to me. Where will they get tenants if real estate professionals can’t?” he poses. An elderly man carrying a rucksack overhears my conversation with Mzee Shariff and stops to make his contribution. “I have lived here for more than four decades and I can tell you for free that Kisauni is on a free fall. It is degenerating. First because of violent crime and secondly because of drainage and sanitation conditions that have made it a breeding ground for dangerous diseases. If Mombasa has a backside, then Kisauni is the anus,” the old man says as he departs. Those who invested in other sub-counties such as Mvita, Changamwe and Jomvu are better off. But in some parts of Nyali, such a Bombululu, it is the same sad story.
SEE ALSO :How to switch up a boring houseAlthough fingers have been pointed at the County Government for failing to address the drainage and sanitation problems, environmental experts attribute the floods to poor planning and rampant corruption, leading to the illegal mushrooming of structures. Settlement on wetalnds They argue that the floods are due to the structures that have been built on water ways, wetlands and abandoned quarries. Benson Wemali, an environmental expert working with an environmental NGO, Active Environmental Team, says due to population pressure, people have invaded and settled in wetlands and abandoned quarries. He says areas like Junda, Mshomoroni, Bombolulu, Kiembeni and Mwakirunge are wetlands that are not fit for human settlement. “Because of laxity of government agencies, starting with the Mombasa county, Nema, and physical planners, we might continue to witness more deaths and disaster.” “These agencies need to map out the wetland areas and ensure that nobody ever constructs anything in those areas. They are not supposed to allow people to live in these areas. The county government should also make a bold decision to evict the illegal settlers from the wetlands. It may be costly both financially and politically, but the county and the national government must work together in this and show they care more about the lives of Kenyans than money or votes,” he says. Although President Uhuru Kenyatta in January 2017 launched the Mombasa Storm Water Drainage Improvement Project Phase 2 in Bamburi, Kisauni constituency, the project has not brought much success. Governor Ali Hassan Jojo has in the past said the system cost more than Sh2 billion but only covered Kisauni. “The county will need more than Sh6 billion to redo its drainage system, money that is not readily available. However, the county has and will increasingly be allocating more funds to infrastructure after improved revenue collection, which now stands at Sh3 billion annually,” he said.
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