TALKING NOTES DURING OFFICIAL OPENING OF RIVERSIDE STAFF HOUSES,
Kenyatta University on Monday, 14 March, 2016 officially opened its Riverside Staff Housing project. This complex comprising of 60 housing units in blocks of flats rising up to 5 storeys has adequate infrastructural facilities, play areas, recreational and parking facilities. It was constructed over a period of two years using internally generated resources and is aimed at improving staff welfare through provision of housing.
Speaking at the official opening, Principal Secretary-State Department of Public Works, Prof. (Arch.) Paul Mwangi Maringa, who was the Chief Guest, acknowledged that the development would increase access to decent housing as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya. He further reiterated the Government’s commitment of realizing well planned and maintained housing with necessary supportive infrastructure and social amenities for all Kenyans. He thanked the University Management led by the Vice Chancellor and the University Council for augmenting Government effort in provision of housing.
While the Constitution of Kenya entitles every person a social right to accessible and adequate housing, and to reasonable standards of sanitation(Article 43, 1(b)) and the Employment Act, 2007 requires employers to provide their employees with reasonable housing accommodation (Article 31.(1), the Government, in its long term development blue-print, the Kenya Vision 2030, and through the second Medium Term Plan of implementation of this Vision (MTP II) envisages “Adequate and Decent Housing in a Sustainable Environment”
He informed the guests that the emphasis of the second MTP with respect to housing is:
- Have in place a sound policy and legal framework for rational planning. To this end, the Government has developed or initiated the following:
- National Housing Policy,2004-Under implementation
- Estate Management and Maintenance Policy, 2012-Pending adoption by Parliament
- National slum upgrading and prevention Policy-Draft
- Sectional Properties Act, 1987-Enacted
- The Physical Planning Act, Cap 286, 1986-Enacted
- Built Environment Bill, 2011- Pending enactment
- Landlord and Tenant Bill, 2007-Pending enactment
- Housing Bill, 2014-Pending enactment
- Adequate housing development and management using affordable technology; and
- Sustainable urbanization.
Further, he highlighted the following key challenges in the housing sector:
High population growth v/s housing outputs per annum
Noting that Kenya’s population stood at 43 Million in 2014 with an annual growth of 2.7% per annum i.e. additional 1.3 Million persons per year, he cautioned that housing development has not been congruent to this growth and that interventions needed to be sought to address the imminent housing deficit.
In 1999, only 19% of Kenya’s population was urban. However, by 2009, this proportion had risen to 32% and is projected to be in excess of 50% by year 2030. This not only calls for increased investment in urban housing but also opening up new areas for housing development, decentralization and investment in innovative technologies, knowledge and methods of housing development.
High cost of financing housing development
He observed that the uptake of loans and advances in the construction sector has risen over the years to Ksh. 80.4 Billion in 2014. With this, he also noted that cost of credit has not only been unstable over years but also on a general upward trajectory to an average of 17% in 2014.
He reported that the Government, as an employer, has initiated a Civil Servants Housing Scheme Fund to address housing challenges amongst Civil Servants. This fund is administered through two arrangements as follows:
- Tenant-purchase basis at concessionary rate (5%) with maximum repayment period 20 Under this, 656 housing units in Ngara (Nairobi), 62 units in Kileleshwa, 50 units in Kilimani have been developed for occupation by civil servants. A further 250 units are under construction in Kisumu
- Loans to civil servants on purchase-or-construct terms. He reported that the beneficiary gets 90% financing, repayable in 20 years maximum at 5% p.a. on reducing balance. So far, Ksh. 3.7 Billion has been disbursed to over 720 civil servants. In addition, the reviewed mortgage scheme for civil servants will upscale the loan limits to between Ksh.4 Million (Job Group A) and Ksh.20 Million (Job group U)
Low investment in housing
He noted that private developers concentrate in high end markets due to the attributable returns from that section of the market. This leaves the low-end market unattended to. To intervene, the Government has embarked on a programme aimed at encouraging housing development, upgrading of slums and improvement informal settlements with the following results:
- Installed physical infrastructure to open up land for Housing development(trunk sewer, access roads, water reticulation)
- Slum upgrading and informal settlement improvement programme:
- In Kibera, Soweto “A”, 822 housing units have been developed
- In Mariguini slums 2,000 units, Kibera Soweto “B”-3,072 units are to be developed
- Engaged Public-Private-Partnerships in development of low cost housing- Starehe (6,036 units), Parkroad (1,800 units) and Shauri Moyo (1,500 units) Negotiations are at advanced stage
- Government expenditure on housing development increased progressively from Ksh. 2.9 Billion in FY 2010/11, Ksh. 3.2 Billion in FY 2011/12, to Ksh. 3.5 Billion in FY 2012/13 and Ksh. 6.1Billion in FY 2014/15
High cost of building materials:
He reported that materials costs constitute 40% of construction costs and that these costs have risen steadily over the years. To circumvent this challenge, he proposed progressive adoption of appropriate building technologies and materials e.g. Industrial Building Systems (IBS), Expanded Polystyrene Systems (EPS) and interlocking stabilized earth bricks