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Kisii town reels under eyesore of stalled residential buildings

By Erick Abuga | January 14th 2021

Some of the unfinished residential building in Nyanchwa estate in the outskirts of Kisii town (PHOTO: Sammy Omingo)

After years of muted development, Kisii town is slowly transforming into a concrete jungle of note.

Over the last decade, the town has witnessed increased economic activities, resulting in a corresponding demand for housing for both commercial and residential use.  

But amid the real estate boom, a worrying trend is emerging: that of stalled buildings, especially high-rise residential buildings, some of which have gone unfinished for close to 10 years.

This is against basic construction rules that dictate that any building must be completed within five years.

On the Kisii-Migori Road, for instance, there are several unfinished buildings, though most of them are occupied on the lower floors despite the obvious dangers they pose to tenants.  Joseph Onyinkwa, who owns such a structure in Nyamataro area, said his four-storey building has stalled for 12 years due to a court case.

He bought the land it sits on in 1998 after retiring from the Teachers Service Commission. He had hoped to finish the building within three years, but this was not to be.

“Unfinished houses are common in Kisii. A majority of private developers have been battling court cases for years. Unresolved succession cases have also derailed the town’s development plans,” said Mr Onyinkwa.

Onyinkwa explained that when he bought the land, the then owner, who has since died, had not notified his kin that he had sold part of his land.

“He died four years later, and the rest of the family moved to court, challenging its ownership,” he said.

The six sons claimed their father sold the said land plus other parcels under the influence of alcohol. Onyinkwa had not processed the title deed to the land before the seller died.

Onyinkwa’s predicament is not unique and is replicated in much of the town.

Several developers at Nyanchwa Estate in the town have also had to abandon construction midway due to double registration of titles.

In August last year, the Government halted any land transactions in the estate and directed the National Land Commission (NLC) and the Lands Ministry to carry out verification of the titles. With more than 600 plots, the estate is registered as leasehold, but the Kisii Land Registrar Steve Mokaya said investors have lost millions because of double registration of title deeds.

Gideon Nyambati, a lawyer in Kisii town said he is currently handling more than 20 cases concerning stalled buildings.  

“Most of these cases revolve around land succession. We have cases where private developers have died before the cases are determined,” he said.

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