Artisans, slum dwellers march in support of Housing Levy

A section of Community-based organisations, Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya and slum residents picket in support of the Housing levy along Harambee Avenue Nairobi on December 28, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Jua kali sector workers held a peaceful procession in Nairobi in support of the contentious Housing Levy.

Carrying placards, they said they were tired of living in slums and maintained they were the direct beneficiaries of the levy. 

A section of Community-based organisations, Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya and slum residents picket in support of the Housing levy along Harambee Avenue Nairobi on December 28, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

“We are asking the court, National Assembly and Senate to listen to us. As contractors numbering about 700,000 members countrywide in over 50 ongoing construction sites the housing scheme will create jobs enabling us take our children to school, eat and live well,’’ said Peter Muema, chairman of Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya.

They asked Busia Senator Okiya Omutata, who has gone to court to oppose the implementation of the Housing Levy to be considerate of the jobless.

A section of Community-based organisations, Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya and slum residents picket in support of the Housing levy along Harambee Avenue Nairobi on December 28, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

“All these youths working in construction sites have no jobs and if the project is stopped, they will fall into crime. We ask him and other petitioners to consider that and withdraw the cases,” argued Muema.

The Housing Levy is in the Finance Act 2023, which was passed into law in June this year. It requires salaried employees to be deducted 1.5 per cent of their salary and their employer to pay the same percentage.

A section of Community-based organisations, Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya and slum residents picket in support of the Housing levy along Harambee Avenue Nairobi on December 28, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The High Court in Nairobi declared the levy unconstitutional.

Justices Lawrence Mugambi, Christine Meoli and David Majanja ruled that the levy was discriminatory since it imposed taxes on salaried workers excluding those in informal sector.

A section of Community-based organisations, Jua Kali Contractors Federation of Kenya and slum residents picket in support of the Housing levy along Harambee Avenue Nairobi on December 28, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]