Scores of landowners could lose their leases if the Kakamega government executes a threat to reposes undeveloped plots within Kakamega and Mumias towns and reallocates it afresh.
Records held by the department indicate that up to 200 plots located around Kakamega town business district have remained undeveloped over the years, contrary to lease regulations requiring the plots be developed within 12 months.
A proposal submitted by the county’s department of Land, Housing and Physical Planning by the county executive committee (CEC) is awaiting approval to cancel land leases for undeveloped plots and revert the same to government for reallocation. An inventory of undeveloped plots in the two towns is attached to the proposal.
Kakamega CEC in-charge of Land, Housing and Physical Planning, Alfred Matianyi says his office is waiting for government backing to initiate the process. “We want to revoke the leases and reallocate the plots afresh in order to unlock impediments that have made investors in the housing and manufacturing sectors to shy away from Kakamega town,” he said, alluding to the challenge posed to the flow of investment by lack of land.
The expected decision on the undeveloped leases, which is expected to draw heated reactions, is one of the three documents awaiting the county cabinet approval, and key to provide a roadmap for planned development of the towns.
The other two documents are spatial plans for Kakamega and Mumias towns. The Kakamega town spatial plan undertaken two years ago was funded by the World Bank while that for Mumias town cost Sh57 million and was funded by the county government.
Kakamega town’s spatial plan envisages transforming the area into a bigger metropolis from the current seven square kilometres (sqk) to slightly above 100sqk. This is after incorporating satellite shopping centres of Lubao to the north, Khayega in the east and Eshisiru in west now fall within the town’s boundary.
“The beauty about the document is that it provides a roadmap to stimulate the development of the town after designating different zones for different sectors. However, the challenge still sticks out…about 90 per cent of the land under the new boundary is freehold,” he said.
Asked whether the county government budget for 2018/19 provides a vote for purchase of land, Matianyi was non-committal. He said the county government would only stick to its core mandate of service delivery.
“Apart from what we shall get after repossessing those undeveloped plots, we’ve earmarked Mudiri estate, which is co-owned by National Housing Corporation and the defunct Kakamega Municipal Council at Shichilai market. We also plan to repossess the old airstrip for redevelopment,” he said.
He said the county government had initiated a process and agreed to guarantee to at least 1,000 county government staff to access mortgage financing to buy residential houses from apartment developers such as Housing Finance Company (HFC) who have shown investment interest in the area.
Although Kakamega town has an acute housing problem that has driven some of the county staff to commute to work from neighbouring counties, the government was undertaking various projects in the area to lure investment in the housing sector to the town.
Matianyi says the projects include road infrastructure, which aims to turn at least 200 kilometres of roads mainly in the towns of Mumias and Kakamega to all weather standards in order to boost transport and road interconnection.