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University stirs up sleepy Bondo town, attracting new investors

NYANZA
By Isaiah Gwengi | July 17th 2021

Bondo town.[Isaiah Gwengi,Standard]

Fifty years ago, Bondo was just a lakeside fishing town with low-key investment potential. A few homes dotted the bushy Nyamira and Sinapanga villages.

The only visible building in the area was a tower at the gate of Bondo Teachers Training College, whose recent transformation has greatly changed the area; opening up opportunities that residents had never thought of.

Kennedy Odhiambo, a resident, says that when he settled in the town in 1998 after moving from Siaya town, Bondo was playing second fiddle to other urban centres of then Siaya District. Not anymore.

The conversion of Bondo Teachers Training College to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) more than eight years ago has opened up areas on the outskirts of the town for growth, with investors keen on real estate rushing to cash in on the new opportunities.

According to JOOUST Vice-Chancellor Prof Stephen Agong, the institution’s student population has risen to at least 10,000 since it became a fully-fledged university in 2013.

The university has seen a rise in development in several sectors, with financial institutions such as the Co-operative Bank of Kenya, Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Post Bank and the Kenya Women Finance Trust setting up shop in the town.

Bondo was established as a market centre in the early 1920’s and attained municipality status in 1995.

The town hosts the sub-county headquarters, playing a business convergence role for the lakeshore area and the fast growing fishing sector.

“Traders from Ugenya, Gem and Alego bring their goods to Bondo,” says Mercy Omondi, a 40-year-old trader at Migingo market.

The town, which has its main market days on Tuesday and Friday, has good electricity supply, an unpaved bus terminus and a slaughter house.

Several hotels and entertainment spots have emerged in the town, with The Nilotic Club, Travellers, and Club Bondez among others completing the town’s night life.

Augustine Adah, one of the pioneer residents, recalls that in early 2000, areas like Sinapanga village were idle.

“I was born in this village and have lived here ever since but have never seen so much construction as is happening now,” said Adah, adding that concrete buildings have taken the place of mud-walled houses.

“Today, residents pay between Sh2,000 and Sh3,000 for a single-room house where they used to pay Sh500 a month in rent 10 years ago,” says Adah.

Land prices within Bondo’s Central Business District (CBD), have been on the rise, with an eighth acre going for up to Sh200,000 from Sh10,000 two decades ago.

Beatrice Oluoch, an investor who bought one acre of land in the area about 10 years ago at a cost of Sh150,000 says she has the option of selling her land at a profit or developing it.

“Land has become hot cake here and I am reluctant to dispose of mine because I know the value it holds at the moment,” Oluoch says.

Allan Obiero, a journalist whose parents were among the first indigenous families to settle in the area in the late 80s, says the area was sparsely populated.

He attributes the immense growth to establishment of the university and the road network to Siaya, which passes through Sinapanga area.

Obiero says urban development pointers like industries could soon be a reality, given the proximity to Bondo town, as real estate developers take advantage of improved infrastructure.

West Sakwa MCA Maurice Osewe says prevailing conditions have forced original landowners to sell their parcels of land to investors flooding the area.

This is attributed to growing demand for land, even as plans are underway to elevate Bondo to town status alongside Siaya, Ukwala, Yala, and Usenge.

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