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Hostels liven up once sleepy town

REAL ESTATE
By Boniface Thuku | December 3rd 2015

The chirping of birds welcomes one to Karuga Forest on the border of Nakuru, Nyandarua and Laikipia counties.

The only visible building on top of the hill is a learning institution, which has greatly changed the area; opening up opportunities area residents had never thought of.

The presence of Laikipia University in Nyahururu has opened up areas on the outskirts of Nyahururu Town for growth, with investors, including those keen on real estate, rushing in to cash in on the new opportunities.

The university has seen a rise in development in several areas from Duka Tatu, Karuga all the way to Nyahururu Town. Real estate investors are scrambling for parcels of land to put up hostels around the university.

The area past the famous college stage where Laikipia University is located is experiencing significant growth in residential housing and small businesses that serve the growing student population.

Zakayo Gitau, a resident, says that when he settled in the area in 2007 after moving from Burnt Forest due to post-election violence chaos, land was being sold at a “throw-away price”.

Change

“When I moved, I bought an acre for Sh150,000. Today, if I subdivide the same parcel of land into plots of 50 by100 ft, I am sure of getting eight times more than what I bought it for,” he says. Gitau has seen the university grow from a training college to a fully-fledged university in 2013. He says things have changed drastically as investors moved in to build hostels.

“It has taken time for the area to grow. All these places were full of lush vegetation. Today, everything has changed; hostels have opened up this place,” he says.

Boaz Muturi, a biochemistry student at the university, says that due to shortage of hostels within the institution, most of them have been forced to seek accommodation outside, especially near Duka Tatu Estate.

Muturi says a single room goes for Sh10,000 per semester while a self-contained house goes for Sh32,000 per semester.

Returns

“Landlords here get good returns from the facilities. Owning 20 rooms, each going for Sh10,000, would see one make Sh200,000 per semester,” he says.

Garden Hostels Milimani caretaker Joseph Gakuthi says it is rare for them to have vacant rooms as demand is high due to the high number of students seeking accommodation.

“We have never had vacant rooms for more than two days.

We have 32 rooms, each being occupied by two students, bringing the total number of students we accommodate at any one time to 64,” he says.

James Maina, a butcher, says he started his butchery business early this year and he has no regrets. He started by slaughtering one goat every day. Today, he slaughters three due to increased demand from students.

He says that most women from within the area also making a killing from the sale of vegetables to the students who make meals in their houses.

“As business people in this area, we are proud of what we are reaping from the presence of university students. Business opportunities have opened up and in near future, this place will be a business hub,” he says.

Daniel Mwaniki, a History and Swahili student in the same campus, opened a barbershop in the area which he operates part-time. The bulk of his clients are fellow students.

He says that by the time he finishes his studies, he will be having a business to keep him busy as he waits for a white colour job.

“I am using the opportunity to make hay while the sun shines. Every day, I am able to shave a few heads before I call it a day,” he says.

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