Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar yesterday launched a scathing attack on Governor Hassan Joho over a Sh90 billion housing project.
The senator accused Joho’s administration of launching the project in a most opaque manner, raising suspicion that the governor wants to sell off public land in the guise of establishing affordable and modern houses.
The project has attracted immense opposition from Joho’s critics, including Mombasa gubernatorial loser Suleiman Shahbal, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) as well as sections of civil society groups. They have questioned the project’s costs and alleged inadequate consultations. But Joho has dismissed his critics, saying they are motivated by vested interests in the real estate sector. He also accused them of politicising ‘the noble’ project.
And minutes after the senator’s detailed assessment and disavowal of the project, Joho’s administration issued a statement through Housing Executive Antony Njaramba.
Njaramba said adequate consultation and public participation had been done and accused critics of using figures to cause revolt and confusion.
He said critics had claimed the project would cost Sh200 billion to cause alarm. He estimated that the construction of new houses in the 10 estates would cost Sh90 billion.
However, Omar told the county to shelve the plan and carry out wider consultations, adding legal and constitutional issues will be canvassed in court to define the parameters and scope of mandate and obligations of county governments with respect to housing. The senator said the haste in which the project was being undertaken raises integrity questions that it will open a floodgate of illegal disposal of public land by other counties.
“The concept as it is now is ill-conceived, it is a fraud and ought to be stopped, failure to which we will move to court to seek legal redress. Exhaustive consultations must be undertaken that meet the realm of public participation as enshrined in the Constitution,” said Omar.
“This is a scheme to defraud the public and sell off the only remaining public land. It is the old tendency of condemning public houses before they are brought down or sold to private developers,” said Suleiman Shahbal, the Jubilee Alliance Chairman.
CIPK Organising Secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa said firms that will win the tenders must meet tenants and the county should not purport to negotiate on their behalf.
Omar said the project can occasion a fundamental shift of policy to deny those in the lower levels of society the right to decent, safe and affordable housing.
Joho, however, vowed to push ahead with the project, saying it was the solution to the current deficit of 20,000 housing units in the county.