Was President Uhuru Kenyatta trying to sell the affordable housing agenda, a project Kenyans are already questioning, when he met MPs on Thursday last week?
The meeting between a bi-partisan group of parliament and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) was meant to discuss the roadmap towards the realisation of affordable housing. This is a key pillar in President Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four’ development blueprint.
Kenyans have questioned the sustainability of this proposal saying the government is overtaxing the citizens while most of the taxes were being lost to corruption.
In the meeting held at State House Nairobi, MPs, senators and COTU were taken through the steps the government is taking to deliver the envisaged 500,000 housing units.
The government projects to deliver the units in the next five years but Kenyans are not optimistic about it.
The Big Four is a distraction of massive debt this country has incurred under Uhuru Kenyatta Govt. Its the doorway for corruption barons, a free fall for all types of theft as they vomit impunity on us.
— swabera (@SwaberaSaid) July 8, 2018
For a country whose majority populace lives under 2 dollars a day, it is even more outrageous that they would be expected to pay Sh600,000 for a one bedroom house or Sh1.05 million for a two-bedroom unit.
In the State House meeting also attended by Deputy President William Ruto, deliberations covered a wide array of aspects needed to lower the cost of housing in the country. These included cost of land, provision of supporting infrastructure, anchor legislations and financing among other key considerations.
“Let us all purpose to make the dream of many Kenyans to own decent and affordable houses a reality by actively participating in this programme and playing our respective roles,” the President said.
The MPs drawn from the departmental committee of transport, public works and housing of the National Assembly and the Senate’s standing committee on roads and transport were told that 22 counties had already signed up to the programme.
Workers and their employers have however expressed their dissatisfaction with the National Housing development Fund (NHDF) saying that it is another entity created to siphon more money from Kenyans.
@IEAKwame housing is largely a private affair. The government needs to first seal loopholes, deal with errant civil servants & their accomplices to gain Kenyans’ confidence. Read More: https://t.co/1BU5RWEPqx @kamaukariuki_ @IEAKenya
— IEA Kenya (@IEAKenya) July 9, 2018
While the need for adequate housing is genuine, the means to providing Kenyans with decent and affordable housing seems shrouded in mystery. The plan, announced by Treasury CS Henry Rotich during the budget reading, has got many Kenyans worried and angry that the government is making arbitrary decisions regarding their money while corruption continues unabated.
If all goes according to plan, the affordable housing project will be unveiled in Nairobi and progressively rolled out to other counties. Park Road, Makongeni, Muguga Green and Shauri Moyo housing projects, accounting for a total of 27,840 houses, will be among the first to be rolled out.
According to the World Bank’s The Kenya Economic Update: Housing—Unavailable and Unaffordable, Kenya has a housing deficit of over 2 million units. With this, nearly 61% of urban households live in slums.
This housing deficit continues to rise due to fundamental constraints on both the demand and supply side and is exacerbated by an urbanization rate of 4.4%, equivalent to 0.5 million new city dwellers every year.
The report adds that numerous benefits can be attributed to improving access to housing finance, including economic growth, job creation, and deepening of the financial sector.