Reuben Mwambingu @reubenmwambingu
The county government of Mombasa has started moving more than 800 tenants from Mzizima, Likoni Customs and Changamwe estates, ahead of the ground breaking of the first phase of a planned Sh200 billion Mombasa affordable housing project.
Lands, Housing and Physical Planning Executive Edward Nyale says the county has already issued vacation notices to tenants in the three estates where the project to redevelop the old estates into 30,000 homes is set to begin.
“We have issued vacation notices and not eviction notices as some people have started calling them,” he said.
“We are not evicting people, we are not cancelling tenants agreements …we are just asking them to vacate because we still have a post-project arrangement with them,” he added.
Speaking to Boma soon after meeting the project’s technical team, Nyale said the tenants were issued with generic notices to vacate from October 1. He was quick to add that the notices will take effect after all the tenants receive facilitation funds to enable them find accommodation for the next two years.
The project will only begin after everyone has received the vacation or relocation funds. Three developers will undertake the projects in each of the three estates separately —Jabavu Village Limited to construct Mzizima, Technofin for Changamwe estate while Goldline will be at Likoni Customs.
After a meeting with the developers, Nyale said it was proposed that tenants be paid double the amount of their rent payable as at July this year, for 24 months. The relocation fee will be paid out by the developers.
The relocation has sparked concerns amongst some of tenants in the estates who now fear that the payout could disadvantage them given that rental homes under the defunct municipal council are still low compared to what tenants in private estates pay.
“We must be consulted and come to an agreement on how to vacate…if they go against our wishes, we will seek legal redress in court,” said Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Organising Secretary, Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, a resident of Buxton estate.
In Changamwe estate, for instance, a single room rents for Sh840 per month while a one-bedroom house costs Sh1,680 monthly. A two-bedroomed unit costs Sh3,120 per month. The tenants will now be paying between Sh15,000 and Sh30,000 to shelter in a one or two-bedroom house at private estates such as Vescon in Bamburi.
Nyale said the county administration is not bound by any rules “to pay relocation fee to the tenants during construction of housing projects” adding that in counties such as Nairobi, “the tenants have not been paid a single sent.”
He said the proposal to pay the relocation facilitation came after “tough negotiations with the developers,” adding what the developers will pay out as relocation fee will be added to the final construction costs paid upfront. “Once we clear the sites, then we will hand them over to the developers,” he added.
Nyale said earlier plans were to start construction in October, but they have decided to give the tenants ample time to move out. “We now anticipate that we will be able to break ground before year-end or early next year,” Nyale said.
Around 758 families will be affected in Changamwe, 58 in Mzizima and about the same number in Likoni Customs. Ground breaking of phase two of the project, which comprise Likoni flats, Tudor, Buxton and Khadija estates is expected to take place by April 2019.
“These are different projects being handled by different developers who move at different paces. Some are fast but others are taking longer, but we are in the final stages of project design and financing agreements.
For Likoni we have already finalised the designs and we are now polishing it up. In the next couple of weeks, we should know what the project incorporates,” he said.
Buxton and Tudor are relatively huge projects and it is expected that they will take longer. In Miritini where a proposed new city is being planned for, developers in charge are in the process of preparing a comprehensive master plan.
“Master plans take time and as you know this is a green site; it’s not just about housing, there will be a lot of other developments attached to it… we have just been to the site with the developers and they are now preparing a master plan,” explained Nyale.
The masterplan is expected to take six to nine months before the developers come up with a programme on how to roll out the project which will include the anticipated 8,000 housing units, office blocks and industrial park lots, among other development.