Kenya: Joho's Sh6bn Buxton Housing Project Faces Rejection

14 September 2020

A section of Mombasa politicians and tenants of Butxton estate have rejected Governor Hassan Joho's Sh6 billion affordable housing project.

The county government had entered into a partnership with businessman Suleiman Shahbal who won the tender to build the houses.

Mr Shahbal said over 500 residents of Butxton estate will become home owners through mortgage and tenant purchase arrangements.

However, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, former senator Hassan Omar, ward representatives Charles Kitula (Freretown) and Faith Mwende (Port Reitz) called for suspension of the project until it is evaluated.

They have also threatened to go to court to halt its implementation and warned banks against financing the project.

"How was the public-private partnership arrived at? The project should be suspended, we need evaluation," insisted Mr Omar.

The leaders urged estate residents to stay put and that no one should be evicted from the houses. They further called on the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe Governor Joho over alleged corruption.

"The ongoing ills in this county call for a probe but because of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Mr Joho is untouchable. But a day will come when you will pay for the oppression. We will not tire, we will continue fighting for residents' rights through the courts and politically," said Mr Ali.

Speaking at a press conference in Mombasa, the MP accused the county boss of playing the tribal card with Buxton residents, while chiding him to show them his development record since he was elected governor.

"Stop the ethnicity. Anyone living in Mombasa whether a Luo or Kikuyu is a (Coast resident). We will start talking to our people, we will start a revolution ahead of the 2022 General Election. We will remove the dynasties," said the Nyali MP.

Mr Ali said the BBI will be rejected if it does not solve issues affecting Coast residents including drug abuse and land problems among others.

On his part, Mr Omar urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to retire peacefully, while blaming him and Mr Odinga for the economic slump affecting the coastal town.

Buxton Welfare Association Secretary-General Baya Mwanyule said the law was never followed during the public participation forums on the housing project.

"We have rejected the project because we are very suspicious. Public participation was conducted illegally. We cannot afford the mortgage - Sh1.8 million is expensive for us... This is a ploy to evict us but we will reject it. We are not moving from the estates where we have lived for over 40 years," he said.

Currently, the tenants pay Sh3,700 for a two-bedroom house and Sh2,800 for a one-bedroom house monthly.

According to Buxton welfare chairman Sheikh Mohammed Khalifa, the over 500 people residing within the estate will be given about Sh200,000 each as compensation. Currently, the entire estate has over 500 housing units. The investor intends to build over 1,900 units including pre-primary schools, hospitals and youth and sports centres.

Mr Joho said current tenants will be given first priority once the houses are complete.

"Together with the national government, we will structure a lease purchase so that whatever amount you've paid qualifies you to be an owner. Along the social programmes that we have is to create a strong community bond," said Mr Joho last month during a public participation meeting.

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