Kenya: Joho Calls for Dialogue in Buxton Project Impasse

26 February 2021

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho has extended an olive branch to his rivals who are opposed to the affordable housing project in Buxton.

The county boss has called for more talks with the developer after residents raised complaints following their transfer from the area.

"Let us bring everybody to the table and listen to what they have to say. We can't fail to get a solution," Mr Joho said.

The county government signed a Sh6 billion deal with a private developer to build 1,500 housing units in Buxton.

The development will include demolition of 500 units. Locals are expected to move and pave way for construction.

Buxton Tenants Welfare Group chairman Sheikh Khalifa Mohammed said locals are not against the development but want their voices heard.

Disputes

"The project should be implemented in an honest and moderate manner. A majority of people should agree with it," he said.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, his Likoni counterpart Mishi Mboko and other leaders support the talks, saying the project should not be shoved down the throats of residents.

The leaders addressed Buxton locals during the launch of the Mombasa Early Childhood Robotics programme by Mr Joho.

"With the negotiations, Buxton residents will own the process. That will end the disputes being witnessed," Ms Mboko said.

Mr Nassir said the residents would feel oppressed if their views are not taken into consideration.

He said businessman and politician Suleiman Shahbal, who is associated with Buxton Point Apartments Ltd - the company that is undertaking the housing project - should be ready to listen to residents.

Mr Nassir and Mr Shahbal have expressed interest in the governor position. Mr Joho is in his second and last term.

"If anybody expects to benefit from the housing project, we wish him or her well," Mr Nassir said.

"All we are saying is that the concerns of people should be heard."

The project was expected to start in January following an overwhelming support by Buxton residents during public participation last year.

About 500 houses in the estate will be redesigned and redeveloped into 1,860 modern units.

They are 150 units for county government employees and another 352 for rental.

Jobs and training

There are one and two-bedroom units in which tenants pay ShSh2,800 and Sh3,662 a month respectively.

The new complex will have a social centre, a clinic, playgrounds, mains water, power and environmental controls.

Mr Shahbal had earlier said that among other benefits, the project would offer training and jobs in plumbing, masonry and carpentry.

Residents are to be given Sh240,000 as relocation allowance, with the developer paying a Sh60,000 deposit for each family as commitment for buying the units.

But their transfer has become a hurdle to the project, with a group of Buxton families taking the matter to court.

The ruling of the case is expected on March 3.

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