The Star (Nairobi)

27 February 2013

Kenya: Wundanyi Town Housing Crisis Bites As County Staff Step in

Decades of underinvestment in real estate have landed Wundanyi town into a housing crisis as the county government takes shape.

The Transition Authority's announcement that it will post staff to assist in transition to the incoming county government has sent the town's local authority into panic mode as they will use its offices.

Town Clerk Michael Njogu said this will worsen the situation as the town faces a biting shortage of both commercial and residential space.

There have been little investments in property development in decades despite a rapidly growing population.

"We wonder where the county officers who are coming here will get accommodation from because of the house shortage in Wundanyi. It is sad that property investors shy away from this place," Njogu said.

He said the local authority's houses are inadequate and called on private developers to embark on new-builds.

"More than 500 people have applied for consideration to be allocated council houses which are already occupied," said Njogu, adding that some applicants think they have been turned down unfairly.

The Wundanyi community has been unresponsive to the growing demand for space which needs new investments, according Njogu.

The town however lacks room for expansion as it is sandwiched between private farmlands.

Rental prices have shot up under the pressure, with most civil servants working in the town forced to commute daily from as far as Mwatate or Voi where they have secured accommodation.

Landowners in the town blame the local authority for poor planning which has resulted in an unconducive environment for real estate investments.

"The initial plan of the town did not put in mind future expansion of the town," said John Mcharo, a property owner who has lived in the town for long.

Most of the surrounding farmlands are owned by peasant farmers who practice small scale farming and are a hurdle to real estate development.

The owners are unwilling to sell their land since they do not have alternative land to settle on, according to Mcharo.

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