Phase One of the initiative will occupy 30 acres and involves 2,000 units tailored to meet the varying social classes of the county
Kitui county government has embarked on a Sh6 billion low-cost housing project to ease rising demand of housing in Kitui town county headquarters.
The affordable housing units will be constructed in a joint venture with real estate developers in a bid to meet growing demand for housing in the county.
The County Executive for Lands, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Jacob Kakundi says the county administration will provide land while the developers will inject financial resources in the three-year project.
He said the initiative will be based on a tenancy-purchase-scheme which will oversee the transfer of completed units to local residents from developers as guided by the current mortgage rates.
Kakundi was speaking soon after chairing a local and foreign investors’ bidding conference in a Kitui hotel. “The county government will enter into a formal partnerships with the developers through which the project will be implemented to its completion,” he added.
Upon completion of the project, the residents can buy housing units by paying normal monthly rent rates as mortgage instalments over an agreed period of time. “The county government is committed to supporting the real estate sector by offering large and medium-sized sections of land with basic amenities,” he added.
Engineer Kakundi said phase one of the proposed residential houses will be constructed on 30 acres. It is envisaged to consist of 2,000 units comprising bedsitters, one and two-bedroom houses, maisonettes and bungalows, specifically tailored to meet the varying social classes of the residents.
At least 12 real estate firms have shown interest to invest in the project. Kakundi said the county administration will also offer other infrastructural incentives including electricity, water, sewerage system and roads.
He said the project will also benefit the county government’s staff with low-priced housing units and office blocks in the wake of a biting shortage of office space and residential houses in Kitui.
It is expected that close to 1,000 units will be ready for sale within one year after commencement of the project. “The partnership will remain binding for one year after completion of the project so as to address any matters arising after sale of the units,” he said.
The project will help mitigate the county headquarters’ housing challenges, which the town residents have to contend with in the absence of National Housing Corporation (NHC projects in the region.
“Since early 1980s when the NHC pulled out from a housing programme at Site and Service Scheme in Kitui town, this region has experienced slow growth in housing. This is due to high costs of putting up residential, office blocks and other accommodation facilities such as hotels and hostels,” said Titus Malonza, a real estate developer.
He said over time and despite developers’ efforts to establish housing units in the central business district and its environs, the town’s population has continued to increase. This has led to an increased demand for buildings both for business and residential use,” said Malonza.
He cites institutions of higher learning such as the South Eastern Kenya University (Seku), Kenyatta University Kitui campus, Kitui Medical Training College, Kitui Teachers Training College, Kitui Water Institute and Kitui county government head office which have come up with large workforces, hence the need for expanding housing.
“The influx of investors calls for immediate interventions for provision of decent housing,’’ said Kitui Township Member of County Assembly (MCA), Anthony Ndoo. He said the need for adequate housing could balloon into a crisis once mining of coal and limestone deposits in the county starts. “Such investors normally will come up with large workforces,” he said.
Lack of large pieces of idle land in the environs of the town could slow down developers unless the county government comes up with a policy to expand the town boundaries.
“Due to housing shortage, some of the housing merchants have capitalised on the problem by building low-class residential houses, even encroaching into protected areas including riparian land contrary to National Environment Management Authority (Nema) laws,’’ said Ndoo.