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From a Kisumu graveyard to posh estate

Rukia Thwalib @PeopleDailyKe

In the early 80s, mounds of graves took resident in this place earning Kisumu’s public cemetery the name Makaburini. But more than 30 years down the line, magnificent and modern storey buildings occupy the area and the one-time public cemetery has now come out to be one of the most modernised and sought-after estates in the lake side city of Kisumu.

Polyview Estate located near Kaloleni slums is not only a true reflection of how real estate developers have penetrated the market to make use of available land to accommodate the influx of tenants, but also a growing demand for land to cater for the fast-rising need for decent housing.

Former Kisumu mayor, Priscah Auma Misachi, says the decision to convert the cemetery to an estate was arrived at during a full council meeting at the now defunct Kisumu Municipal Council.

“We decided as a council that there was no need to have a cemetery near the Central Business District (CBD) since the population of the town was growing and people, therefore needed a place to live,” Misachi says.

The former mayor says that estates such as Lumumba, Arina and Ondiek were not enough to cater for the increasing population of the area. “The town was growing fast and, as leaders, we had to come up with a lasting solution,” Misachi remembers.

Soon after the cemetery was re-located to Mamboleo grounds, private developers started scrambling to get space on which to build. But a cross section of some real estate developers still feared the area for superstitious reasons.

Even after being invited, developers could not venture here and opted to focus attention on other areas. “Investors were superstitious that spirits of the dead were sometimes hovering freely in the dark, something they felt would make investments here unattractive and hence keep tenants away,” says Misachi.

Such beliefs were quashed becoming a thing of the past when developers not originally from Kisumu started erecting buildings with modern designs. According to Fathia Asmin, a real estate agent at Kisumu Lake Estate Agency, many of her clients now are unable to secure a house in the estate.

Asmin says: “With the increase in population in the county, many prefer renting in Polyview Estate because of its proximity to town.” She says rentals are also affordable, with one bedroomed house going for Sh15,000; two bedrooms at Sh20,000 and three bedrooms at between Sh25,000 and Sh30,000.

Some apartments feature modern designs with adequate water and electricity supply. “The price of land in Polyview Estate has skyrocketed. The county government is reselling some plots around the estate where people are putting up homes causing rapid development,” says Asmin.

She says developers are also rushing to acquire land for construction because no one wants to be left behind considering the prospects and proximity to town. A 50 by 100 plot at Polyview Estate isgoing for about Sh3 million.

“The land is also prime as it is near the road, providing public means of transport for those without personal vehicles as there are many motorcycles around,” adds Asmin.

Still, Polyview Estate developers face a myriad of challenges including insecurity. “Developers blame the jobless and idle young men from the nearby Kaloleni and Manyatta slums for the rising cases of insecurity.

There have been many cases of theft and robbery reported in the estate,” Fathia says. The other challenge is residents here tend to worry about their own affairs failing to take a keen interest in their neighbours’ well-being.

If they worked together to boost security, cases of robbery and theft would be thwarted considering that every building has its own gate. She encourages homeowners to come together and employ security guards, then build an electric fence in order to improve on security.

However, she admits this would be difficult to achieve because most of the tenants feel they need privacy and shun the gated community idea. With the development of more beautiful apartments with modern designs in other estates like Lolwe, Highrise and Kenyare, it is highly anticipated that the price of houses in Polyview will ease in the next two to three years due to stiff competition from other estates.

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