Residents of Kitui Township location and the County Assembly are up in arms after unknown tycoons invaded and grabbed the BLI (Better Living Institute) public land earmarked for 2,000 affordable housing units.
BLI, which stretches hundreds of acres from the heart of Kitui Town, hosts several government institutes including the Agricultural Training Center (ATC), KMTC Kitui Campus, Kenya Water Institute (KEWI), Kitui Water and Sanitation Company (KITWASCO) and proposed South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU) Kitui Town Campus.
The locals said they were shocked when the tycoons descended on the large tracts of land adjacent to the Kitui-Kibwezi highway, hence prime property, and divided it amongst themselves.
“They came without warning and demarcated then fenced off parcels of land on the government-owned land,” said Joseph Wambua.
“This is an act of impunity against the common mwananchi which cannot be tolerated. The State must take action against the perpetrators,” he added.
Wambua also lamented that the land grabbers had evicted locals who practice small-scale horticultural farming on parts of the public land.
On the same score, speaking after leading the County Assembly’s Lands Committee on a fact-finding mission at the disputed land on Friday, the Chair Geoffrey Mwalimu affirmed that the Assembly will ensure that the grabbers face the law.
“Let all be warned that this is public property and we will not allow greedy individuals, no matter how influential they are, to grab it or even reap from it,” he assured.
The County Government of Kitui had embarked on an ambitious plan to develop 2,000 low-cost housing units in a joint venture with real estate investors in a bid to meet growing demand for affordable housing in the county.
The county administration will provide land while the developers will inject financial resources into the project to the tune of Sh.6 billion.
During the launch of the affordable housing project last year, Real estate expert and project’s consultant, Musaili Malonza said the initiative will be based on a tenancy purchase scheme which will oversee the purchase of completed units by local residents from developers as guided by the current mortgage rates.
“The county government will enter into a formal partnership with the developers through which the project will be implemented to its completion,” he told members of the press.
“Upon completion, residents will be able to own housing units simply by paying the normal monthly rent rates as mortgage installments over the agreed period of time,” explained Mr. Malonza.
The Kitui Executive for Lands and Housing, Eng. Jacob Kakundi affirmed the county government’s commitment to support the real estate sector by offering large and medium-sized sections of land with basic amenities.
He said the project, which is expected to commence in the next three months, will contribute significantly to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda housing pillar.
Eng. Kakundi said phase one of the proposed residential locale will be constructed on an area of 30 acres and will include bedsitters, one and two-bedroom houses, maisonettes and bungalows, specifically tailored to meet the varying social classes of the targeted population.
Noting that over 12 real estate firms had registered interest to invest in the project, the county minister said the administration will also offer other infrastructural incentives including electricity, water, sewerage system and roads to guarantee success of the project.
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 the county headquarters.
Kakundi said close to 1,000 units will be ready for selling within one year after commencement of the project whose implementation period is set for three years.
By Yobesh Onwong’a