Sinapanga: Bondo's attraction for new housing developers

Some of the homes in Sinapanga. A self-contained house goes for between Sh7,000 and Sh12,000. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

As developers rush to meet the rising demand for affordable housing, Bondo town and its environs is turning out to be one of the most attractive areas for developers.

There is a growing appetite for residential development in areas surrounding the town spanning as far as Sinapanga.

Those interviewed attributed the allure to the high demand for low-middle-income housing tenants, who opt for cheaper units in the wake of the prevailing high cost of living and uncertainty in the economic environment.

As a result, many residents have been forced to dispose of their parcels to paave the way for development and buy land outside the town.

Twenty years ago, Sinapanga village was a low-key investment hub. A few homes dotted the bushy village.

People only knew of Bondo Teachers Training College, whose students were all accommodated within the institution, so no big fuss about private developers building hostels.

Today, the village hosts Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC). Residential, commercial buildings and hotels stand in the village - a sign of the real estate boom that is happening across Bondo.

Increased demand for houses, and business premises and rising rent due to fast economic growth are luring investors to Sinapanga.

Located just half a kilometre north of Bondo’s Central Business District, hundreds of parcels of land were idle until owners sold them to groups of people who subdivided them.

 Augustine Adah, one of the pioneer residents, says the area has witnessed a lot of changes with new buildings coming up nearly every month.

According to Adah, concrete buildings have taken the places of mud-walled houses.

“Today, residents pay between Sh2,000 and Sh3,000 for a single-roomed house where they used to pay Sh500 a month in rent ten years ago,” says Adah. He adds that buildings are sprouting up in the once sleepy village, with the area seemingly choking with real estate development.

Original landowners

Adah, who is a mason told The Standard that the original landowners have sold their parcels and relocated to other places.

“People are disposing of their parcels at higher prices and moving to areas where land is still very cheap,” he added.

Land prices in the village, as within Bondo’s Central Business District (CBD), have been on the rise with 0.25 acres going for Sh1.3 million, from about Sh200,000 two decades ago.

Beatrice Oluoch, an investor who bought the same piece of land in the village about ten years ago at a cost of Sh250,000 now says she has the option of selling her plot at a profit or developing it.

“Land has become hotcake 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, said the region was sparsely populated.

“There were several fields where we would go hunting for wild animals for meat. This happened for the better part of my teenage life until around early 2000 when we started seeing other people come to settle here,” said Obiero.

Obiero attributed the growth of the area to the establishment of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology and the road network to Siaya, which passes through the Sinapanga area.  

“Another key pointer to the growth is the advent of devolution, which has seen several people come to settle around seeking modern accommodation. It has prompted property developers to set up modern housing units in the area.”

Obiero added that the area, being the home to the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga could attract more industries owing to its proximity to Bondo town.

Other factors attracting real estate developers to the area include the upgrade of Bondo to a municipality and improved infrastructure.

Nearly all the roads across the village are being upgraded and locals are being connected to the electricity grid.

Erick Nyayiera, a resident, says few houses are unoccupied as many people are expressing interest in buying the property in the estate, driving up the prices.

“This has slowed down the rate at which land was being sold as some hold on anticipating better prices,” says Nyayiera.

The growth of the estate, however, places the residents at a crossroads; juggling between maintaining their agricultural land and developing it.

“As much as the original landowners are willing to sell their parcels, conditions have forced them,” said former West Sakwa MCA Maurice Osewe.