Residents at the Likoni Flats estate in Mombasa have finally agreed to move out of their derelict homes to allow the district government to build new homes in a Sh8bn partnership with a private developer.
Talks about moving out of the 348 tenants lasted six years.
The county government has partnered with the Gold-line Rinco Company to build 3,200 housing units. In the deal, the government makes the land available.
June Mwajuma, Chief Officer for Land and Housing, said the old buildings will be demolished and construction is expected to begin mid-year.
“We assume that the groundbreaking will take place in the middle of this year. Once the project is complete, the county government will receive a number of houses while the rest will be sold by the financier,” said Dr. Mwajuma.
The county-owned property was built in 1973. Most of the houses are in ruins.
“We have given tenants time to organize themselves, including finding new homes and schools for their children,” said Mwajuma, speaking during a public participation meeting at Mwahima Stadium in Likoni.
Some residents asked the government to give them until after this year’s elections to move out.
“We’re ready to move out and allow the district to go ahead with its project of demolishing these homes and building new units. However, we ask for some time, if possible, until after the elections. Most of us are registered voters in Likoni. If we move out now, we might find voting challenges,” said Riziki Hamis, one of the tenants.
Philip Kiio urged the government to ensure only those who are entitled to the money should pay renters to move out.
Kiio claimed the names of those who left many years ago are still on the list and urged the county government to remove them.
“We paid those who gave us these houses. We hope that the list will be checked so that those who receive the relocation allowance are real tenants,” he said.
Mr. Steven Otieno wants the developer to give them first priority in selling the new homes.
“We would also like to meet with the developer to agree on a payment schedule. We hope that they will allow us to buy the houses and pay in installments. Most of us are casual workers and small traders. We can’t afford a cash payment,” Otieno said.
Tenants pay the government between Shh 2,000 and Shh 4,000 a month rent for the one, two and three bedroom apartments.
Mwajuma said they will assess the new homes before the new rents are set. “Ideally, we expect government buildings to be cheaper. Tenants who move are given preferential treatment.”
She added, “The tenants are also paying Sh200,000 less than the rates set for the new units,” Mwajuma said. “The project is part of the national government’s affordable housing agenda.”
Gov. Hassan Ali Joho’s administration has earmarked several lots in the county for demolition and unit construction. The construction of Sh6bn houses on the Buxton estate is already underway.
About 500 families living on the Buxton estate, which is owned by the county government, moved out after receiving a relocation grant.