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The ‘brave’ anguish amid Konza City marvel

By - | February 10th 2013

By Moses Michira

Konza has variously been billed as Africa’s technology genius city and from the numerous artists’ impressions about it, it is bound to be a marvel.

It promises a living standard most Kenyans can only dream about.

However, amid the glossy picture, hundreds of informal structures around the proposed Tech City have been demolished following a Government order.

At Malili town on Mombasa Road, hundreds of business people were still pulling down their temporary homes and shops in a race against time as the Friday deadline drew closer.

In Konza, one of the oldest railways towns just outside the proposed city, property owners were also planning to demolish new mabati structures to comply with the directive.

The demolition is a blow to about 10 new towns that had sprung up as a result of proximity to the mega- technology city expected to cost about Sh800 billion to complete.

Ms Sospeter Kaveke, who works in an informal eatery, said she has lost her job as a cook due to the demolitions and hopes her employer would find an alternative space soon.

Emerging crisis

“It is sad. I don’t have a job anymore,” said Ms Kaveke while having lunch in the partly demolished house in Malili.

She is among employees in the small town moving their stock to their homes while construction workers tried to salvage building materials.

The small town is facing a housing crisis because nearly all structures, including homes built by property investors, who rushed in to meet the rising demand after the Government announced plans for the mega- technology city to be developed on a 5,000-acre parcel of land, have been brought down or are earmarked for demolition.  

Jackson Maweu, who sells construction materials, estimates that about 3,000 people in Malili live in  informal structures.

Despite the setback, he hopes the demolition will bring better tidings for his new hardware shop.

“There will be long term gains for everybody here because we will have a better planned town,” Mr Maweu said.

Officials from the different local authorities have said the permanent structures built without the necessary regulatory approvals would not be spared, a nightmare fact for all property owners within 10km radius of Konza City.

There are fears the permanent structures along the highway encroached on road reserves, considering that the Government plans to extend the dual carriageway from Athi River to Salama town Mombasa Road.  The demolition came as the Government sought to control the development of areas around the city to preserve its value as a way of attracting private investment.

A master plan for the entire area falling within the 10-km ring around Konza City will be developed to guide any new construction.


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