On 24th March, 2016 I was lucky to be part of the press conference organized by the Coast Land Non State Actors (CLNSA). This conference was attended by Haki Yetu, Transparency International, Ujamaa, KNCHR, Juhudi, Kenya Land Alliance (KLA), Action Aid, Kituo Cha Sheria and Hakijamii. The journalists attended in large numbers to hear what the members of civil society had to say. The main theme of the day was raising concerns about the urban renewal and redevelopment project planned by Mombasa County Government.
|Image: Artist Impression on how Likoni Estate Mombasa will look like after re-development|
The following estates will be redeveloped: a) Likoni b) Nyerere c) Tom Mboya d) Kaa Chonjo e) Kizingo f) Khadija g) Buxton h) Mzizima i) Tudor j) Changamwe and k) Miritini
The CLNSA was asking the aforementioned county government to put on hold the proposed redevelopment of old estates in Mombasa. The group of civil society groups clearly stated that they were not opposed to development but there are issues on planning, ownership, funding and land rights that needed to be ironed out first:
- The CSOs pointed out that there is a housing crisis in Mombasa which affects mostly the poor who make up 60 percent of the population. The project seemed to be targeting the top 10 percent who are income earners and can afford to rent luxury apartments. The group feels that these group of people are already well housed. The focus should instead be on building affordable public housing for the people who live in the informal settlements.
- By the time of going to the press, the project had not given any information on the rental income that the county will charge per unit of the new houses. The public has a right to know how much they will pay over what period of time.
- This is a joint venture between the County of Mombasa and private enterprises. There are no policies in place to guide joint ventures. Therefore, there is a feeling that this may end up being a scheme to privatise public housing on public land.
- The National Land Commission (NLC) has not been adequately involved because it has to play a role in the transfer to public land to leasehold or freehold. The group wanted the NLC to address this issues by clarifying the status of land on which the old estates are situated. They expressed fear that some of the land might have already been transferred to private developers.
- The County Government has indicated that the current occupants of old estates will be relocated during construction and returned to the new houses as mortgage owners on completion.
Immediately after the press conference we went to the office of County Executive Committee (CEC) department of Land, Housing and Planning.
The transactions adviser working on the housing project clarified that the Joint Venture (JV) is supported by Section 6 (5) of the County Governments Act No. 17 of 2012 and section 74 of the same act. Under this arrangement, the County Government will contribute land on which the housing units will be constructed. On the other hand the private firms will contribute funds to meet capital expenditure.
Members of the public interested in buying the units shall be directed to deposit money at an appointed escrow account.