National Government departmental heads in Tana River County have expressed concern over the poor state of government staff houses in the county.
They also lamented over the lack of adequate housing units to accommodate them, leaving them to let houses in highly insecure informal settlements, which exposed them to danger.
Speaking during a National Government Service Delivery Coordination Committee meeting at the County Commissioner’s office, the departmental heads asked the Department of Housing to renovate the existing units and build more to accommodate officers.
Tana River Deputy County Commissioner Michael Kioni said his house was almost collapsing as the Department of Housing had not renovated it for years.
“Most government houses in the county, including my residence and that of the County Commissioner, are not fit for human habitation and have become material for condemnation yet the Department of Housing continues to collect rent from officers,” he said.
County Commissioner Oning’oi ole Sosio asked the Housing Department in the county to be proactive and source for funds from its Headquarters to renovate the houses, since the county has a serious housing problem.
He urged the department to focus more on the item of affordable housing in the government’s Big Four Agenda in which the government intends to construct 500,000 housing units countrywide.
A Housing Officer, Mr. Wycliffe Ananda, said there was enough land for the construction of houses in the county but said his office had not been told how many houses would be constructed in the region under the programme.
He told the meeting that his department was not receiving any development funds in the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE), a factor that had made it difficult to renovate houses being occupied by government officers in the county.
“We have not been receiving any development funds in our A.I.E but we have made requisition for at least Sh15 million to renovate 15 houses at a cost of Sh1 million each,” Mr. Ananda said.
He said the County Government last financial year availed Sh6.3 million for the renovation of five houses being used by County Government Officials, including two housing the Cuban doctors, which were renovated at a cost of Sh3 million.
He however, observed that his department was collecting rent amounting to about Sh4.8 million annually from government housing units across the county.
He said the department had registered 312 government quarters in the county- 298 for national government officers and 14 for county government officers.
It was in the process of identifying and registering more, including the police quarters, the administration police lines and those belonging to the department of health.
The officer said the department was also handling 27 leases for offices being occupied by government departments – five for national government and 22 for the county government.
Among the national government departments occupying private houses on lease are the Teachers Service Commission, the Hola Law Courts and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Leases for the County Government include all the 15 ward offices, the Deputy Governor’s residence, the County Assembly Speaker’s residence and the office of the County Public Service Board among others.
By Emmanuel Masha