19 December 2012

Kenya: Underinvestment Blamed for the Housing Shortage

A growing population in Bomet town has outpaced supply of decent housing, pushing many of those operating in the town to commute from other areas in the county.

The county headquarters has in the past one year experienced an inflow of people trooping into the town for business and studies in numerous colleges that have sprouted.

Population is expected to swell further once staff for the county government begin trickling in, at a much faster rate than real estate development. At the moment, government officers mostly operate from the neighbouring Kericho county where accommodation is relatively available.

"Since I was deployed here months ago I have never gotten a place to settle and this has forced me to reside in a town in the neighbouring Kericho," said an officer posted to Bomet county recently.

She is now pushed to digging deeper into her pockets for the costly daily commute from Kericho to Bomet. Without commute allowance in her pay package, she is finding it harder with a family to cater for.

Linus Ng'eno, the Bomet district development officer, said Bomet is in dire need of housing supply in the short term or otherwise the incoming county governance structure will be slowed down.

"The shortage was looming and has been compounded by introduction of the devolve system of government which will obviously require space (for accommodation and offices)," Ng'eno said.

Stephen Sang, the chair of Bomet County Chamber of Commerce, is optimistic that investors will identify opportunities in the real estate sector to cover the shortage of space in coming months.

"The current shortage should not be a cause of worry at all since we have a number of investors putting up houses in town which will take care of office and residential demand which has been growing every week," said Sang. He said the investments underway are likely to counter the shortage in the short term.

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