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Multibillion housing project in Mombasa to take off after court battle

By Joackim Bwana | March 4th 2021

Artistic impression of houses to be constructed at Buxton estate in Mombasa

MOMBASA, KENYA: The six billion shillings housing project in Buxton Mombasa County is set to commence after the high court dismissed a petition seeking to oppose construction of over 500 units.

On Thursday Justice Sila Munyao said the County Government had given enough time to about 502 tenants to vacate and even volunteered to compensate them.

The judge said there was no violation of the tenant’s rights in the way they are expected to move out of the county houses.

“I have accessed the manner in which the tenants in Buxton are expected to vacate and found it does not in any way violate their rights,” said Justice Munyao.

While dismissing the petition, Justice Munyao said that the residents living at Buxton were not protected tenants.
The judge noted that the rent restriction act doesn’t apply to the government or local authority.

“The relationship between the petitioner (Tenants) and the County government is that of landlord-tenant which would be governed by a contract,” said Munyao.

He said that the County gave the tenants 90 days to vacate instead of the usual one month.

“I have not seen anywhere in the contract that when the landlord requires their houses back, they have to compensate the tenants. But the County has gone out of its way to make ex-gracia payment,” said Justice Munyao.

“I cannot hold the County Government given these circumstances and I can’t see how the tenants can argue that their constitutional rights have been violated,” he continued.

The judge said the tenants had a sit down with the county and consented on the monies to be compensated and the time to vacate from the houses to pave way for the project.

Justice Munyao dismissed the argument to be a political matter and said no substance had been put before him to prove otherwise.

He also said that a bench of judges had already determined issues on rights to housing, public participation, access to information and breach of various articles of the constitution in a petition involving 10 other estates in Mombasa under the Urban Renewal and Redevelopment of Old Estates projects.

“You cannot single out one estate from the determination made in relations to the 10 estates in Mombasa in petition 39/2016,” said Justice Munyao.

He said the matters were res-judicata and he had no powers to delve into them.

The residents are expected to get a compensation of Sh240, 000 as relocation allowance to pave way for 1860 modern one and two-bedroom units.

Currently, the tenants pay Sh2,800 for one bedroomed house and Sh3,662 for three bedroomed house with 150 units being presently occupied by County staff while 352 are rentals to the public.

In 2016, residents from 10 estates moved to court and obtained orders stopping the Sh200 billion housing project citing a lack of public participation.

The project which is under a private partnership seeks to attract more investors into Mombasa and improve the face of the coastal city.

Suleiman Shahbal, a businessman won the tender to construct the housing units.

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