Kitengela grows amidst infrastructural constraints

By JAMES WANZALA | Thursday, Jun 5th 2014 at 00:00
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Considered one of Nairobi’s ‘bedrooms’, the area has become a favourite of the capital’s middle-class keen on owning a home, writes JAMES WANZALA

Talk of the fastest growing Nairobi suburbs and Kitengela in Kajiado County will definitely be among the top three locations.

Like Ongata Rongai, Kitengela has for the past few years benefited from the rapid growth of Nairobi city, with middle-class Nairobians buying land and putting up their own houses in the area.

According to Geoffrey Masila, Director of Geomasidah Commercial Agencies Ltd, the cosmopolitan nature of Kitengela is attracting property investors and individual land buyers.

“Unlike other areas in Nairobi, during the 2007 post-election violence, Kitengela was not troubled. That has given real estate investors confidence in the area,” says Masila, who notes that Kitengela’s proximity to Nairobi and rail transport are a boon to its growth.

economy

A while back, Kitengela’s economy was pegged on livestock and slaughterhouses. Wildlife roamed the land and only a few non-Maasai dared to settle here.

Today, new buildings consisting of maisonettes, bungalows and apartments occupy much of what used to be grazing land.

Kitengela town itself has grown fast and now boasts supermarkets, hospitals, companies, universities and high cost private schools.

Private universities and about ten major banks have set up branches in Kitengela. The area also has five cement factories. This has created a lot of investment opportunities in the area.

There are quality schools like Kitengela International Schools; over five medical hospitals including the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Shalom and Gertrude Hospital.

Despite the sub-county’s lack of essential infrastructure like piped water, interior estate roads and sewerage system, the rush to own a piece of land there continues.

Stephen Kioko, a resident of Milimani area who bought half an acre in 1998 for Sh200,000 (the same goes for Sh6 million today), says the county government should improve infrastructure in the area.

“Most residential areas, including mine, lack integrated sewer system. This forced me to construct an in-house sewer system, which was very expensive,” says Kioko.

He adds that there are few feeder roads, most of which are in a poor state of repair (he adds that some Saccos have started upgrading the few that are there).

Another challenge is lack of water since the EPZ companies do not supply water to residential areas, but only to industrial areas, forcing many to dig boreholes.

Much of the land being sold in Kitengela belongs to the indigenous Maasai, according to Ndatani Enterprises Limited Director Alex Muema.

“Kitengela has witnessed fast real estate growth for the last ten years because of Nairobi’s population surge,” says Muema. “Land is readily available and still a bit cheaper, unlike other places like Nairobi,” he says.

Availability of building materials like gypsum and iron sheets (from local companies), stones from nearby quarries and cheap skilled labour is also driving the real estate industry in the area.

Banks in the town, also according to Muema, are also fuelling growth through loans to buy land and construct houses.

Five years ago, local banks could give five years as loan pay back time but today, they give up to a ten-year repayment period, thus attracting more borrowers.

Sacco’s like Jamii Bora, Stima Sacco, Kenya Union of Savings & Credit Co-operatives and other companies are also buying huge tracts of land to sell later.

land prices

Ten years ago, a 50 feet by 100 feet piece of land in the interior of Kitengela was going for Sh100,000. Today, the same of land goes for about Sh2 million. While in the town centre, such land goes for between Sh8 million and Sh9 million, up from between Sh250,000 and Sh300,000 ten years ago.

Masila urges the Kajiado County Government to plant trees in the area to reduce dust, which is a menace in the town.

Lack of sewer lines has also forced home developers to construct bio-digesters in their compounds.

But it is not all gloom. The Kenya Urban Roads Authority is planning to construct estate roads.

Muema adds that with the Kajiado County Government’s supervision and planning systems in place, there is expected to be controlled development in the area.

Speculators are buying and holding huge chunks of land in the hope of making a kill from price appreciation.

Kitengela’s real estate growth is expected to benefit from its proximity to the Konza Techno City, which is just a few kilometres away.

Many universities have pitched tent in the area to capitalise on the growing population.

Land buyers around these institutions are betting on expected increase in demand for rental accommodation for staff and students.

The huge demand has seen a number of ranches sell land to dealers who subdivide them into smaller parcels for resale.

Huge residential estates have also come up, notably with Jamii Bora Makao’s Kisaju View Estate, targeting first-time buyers.

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