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A major housing deficit

By | February 8th 2012

By Allan Olingo

In 2006, the Government started a multi billion shilling police housing project that was expected to improve the living conditions of the Police officers.

The project was aimed at putting up 27,000 new housing units for police officers across the country within three years so that each police officer could live in a self contained two to three bedroomed house.

The Government through the Ministry of Public Works in collaboration with the police planned to revive 23 stalled housing projects that had started in the Moi era, lease houses for other officers who do not need to stay within the police quarters and put up new houses.

A neglected house with leaking roof and cracking walls which houses police officers in Makupa, Mombasa. [PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD]

Pipe dream

But the project has turned out to be a pipe dream as many officers still continue to live in derelict conditions, while sharing houses. Many are staying in old timber, mud walled or iron sheets houses.

The 27,000 units were expected to be available to the officers by 2009, but six years later less than 10 per cent of those units are available.

In April last year, the director of planning in the Police department Mr Silas McOpiyo said that the construction of about 600 units had been completed and that they were ready for occupation.

Mc’Opiyo was speaking at Kiganjo Police College when he received around 24 flats for the police officers.

"Police officers work under demanding conditions and they need decent housing as a motivation," said McOpiyo

Stalled projects

He noted that police officers across the country were set to move into around 2000 housing units whose construction was almost complete.

"The facilities were stalled and the Government had to inject more funds to complete them while others are fresh projects aimed at improving the police housing conditions especially in the urban areas," said McOpiyo.

But in November last year, minister for Public Works, Chris Obure handed over to the Minister for Internal Security Prof George Saitoti 61 four bedroom maisonettes, which were constructed by the Ministry under the second phase of the West Park Police Housing Project.

This was the second hand-over after a similar 54 maisonettes for the first phase of the project were given to the police in March 2011.

"We have given the project priority and the seriousness it deserves since housing is one of the basic needs of mankind. The Ministry is undertaking other projects across the country as well," said Obure during the handing over ceremony.

The Ministry then had also completed another 96 units in other parts of the city. They include 24 housing units and a Police Station in Kayole, 24 flats at the GSU headquarters Ruaraka, 24 flats at the CID headquarters on Kiambu road, 24 flats at the CID training school and another 24 housing units in Dandora.

"Our officers require proper infrastructure and facilities that include a good and conducive working environment and comfortable residential space," said Obure.

But has all these effort helped ease the housing crisis for these law enforcers?

Speaking during the same function, the commissioner of police Mathew Iteere, admitted that the Kenya police force faced an acute housing shortage with at least 33,000 regular police officers serving in the force not adequately housed.

Iteere further disclosed that about 25,000 officers from the administration police were also not housed. He said the Government had allocated close to Sh2billion, which will go towards building new houses and buying several others already built to adequately house the officers.

‘’We are using the funds to put up new houses for the officers and we are also buying the already constructed ones to house them and we hope to fully address the issue of housing in the next five years," said Iteere.

Refurbishing project

Early this year, Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe stated that they had commenced on a project to refurbish 14 stations across the country, including proper housing for officers and their families.

The move is part of recommendations contained in the Justice (Retired) Philip Ransley report on police reforms, which is being implemented by a team led by Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni.

Kiraithe did not, however, state the amount to be spent in the massive development project but a senior official at Vigilance House indicated that the funds were budgeted for under a Sh62 billion kitty for police reforms outlined in the strategic plan and to be implemented through the Naikuni led team.

One of the Naikuni-led team’s objective is to improve the poor living conditions of police officers across the country.

Said Kiraithe: "This move is aimed at uplifting the living standards of police officers as part of the government’s commitment to improving the living conditions of our officers."

Strategic plan

Last year, the Naikuni-led implementation team unveiled an ambitious strategic programme running up to 2013, which will require Sh78 billion to effect.

When launching the strategic plan, Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti said that the money would be spent on completing stalled police housing projects, construct new houses, undertake repair and maintenance of existing police houses.

"We also intend to use these funds to develop a new housing policy for the national police services to allow the police to live with the public as opposed to living in police lines," Saitoti said.

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