How far has President Ruto's ambitious housing plan gone, a year into his presidency?
Twenty-six-year-old Juma Ephy Adhiambo, a resident of Soweto, Kibra, is among 500 workers residing in the Soweto B Social Housing Project.
Adhiambo who is the only female steel worker at this construction site, has been working here for the past year.
“Nilijifunza hii kazi miongoni mwa wanaume. Ni challenging ..nauliza colleagues na wananipa mawaidha. Nilikuja nikaulizia …wakasema utaweza? Nikasema nitaweza. Mjengo ni kama kazi zingine. Challenges, ukifanya kazi na wanaume wengine wanakuchezea ama ku undermine lakini unawaongelesha. I hope siku moja nitakuwa engineer,” she says.
Erick Odhiambo, a quantity surveyor by profession, is the Site Manager at the Social Housing Project that when complete will house 4055 units for slum dwellers from Kibra.
“Work commenced properly in January. We are working on 4 blocks, 18 blocks, 4055 units, sewer line had a challenge. 150 Workers, Casual 70, Technical people contribute 50%. All our workers are from Kibera. It's giving back to society; housing is a basic need. When you do have this you avoid many disasters such as fire,” he says.
The Soweto B project is projected to be completed on 5th January 2023.
Martha Moraa, a surveyor, says her work entails everything in place with planning: “We are setting out floors bit by bit like Block A.”
Just like all Occupants of the Government Social Housing Projects, the prospective owners of the Soweto B Social Housing Project will be required to pay an initial 10 % deposit, with a minimum monthly rent payable for 25 years.
Eventual house owners can only transfer their units after 7 years from the first date of occupation.
Under the Social Housing Scheme, Bed Sitters which cost 600,000 require a Ksh. 60,000, initial deposit, One-bedroom units that cost Ksh.1,000,000 need an initial Ksh.100,000 deposit, while a Two-bedroom unit that costs Ksh.1,500,000 requires a Ksh.150,000 initial deposit.
“Our role is to link the Government with the community. We ensure legit beneficiaries qualify. Houses in zone ABCD are not for sale & are not transferable. The community has welcomed the project: they have been without amenities. So far so good, the community benefiting from employment. Sewer line crisscrossing,” says Stanley Njoroge, Chairman of the Settlement Executive Committee (Soweto East, Zone B).
We depart Soweto B, Kibra and head straight to Mukuru, where the construction of a massive 13,000 housing project is underway.
Irene Gikera, from the State Department of Housing, is the Project Architect of the units that are expected to be fully occupied in 2025.
“First 5 blocks will be complete in January: 2 years completion period. Over 13,000 units, a Fire station, school and police station. The first priority will be given to slum dwellers, those living in riparian land,” she says.
At the Mukuru Meteorological Housing Project, there are a total of 216 Bedsitters, 216 one-bedroom units and 96 2-bedroom units.
Other than Soweto B and Mukuru Met, the construction of Social and Affordable Housing Units has kicked off in Kibera Soweto, Ruiru, Pangani, Starehe, Shauri Moyo, Homabay and Mavoko.
In addition, 200 units will be constructed in each of the 290 constituencies. The Groundbreaking for the projects has been experienced in Githugu Kirinyaga County, Bahati Nakuru County, Lurambi Kakamega County and Vihiga.
The Affordable and Social Housing Agenda was among the Key Pillars in President William Ruto's Kenya Kwanza Alliance Manifesto.
To effectively execute the Mission, President Ruto needed a funding mechanism. The head of state used his alliance's numerical advantage in Parliament to pass the controversial Finance Bill 2023 that imposes a mandatory 1.5 % Housing Tax gross salary deduction from employees and employers.
However, the proposed finance bill 2023 received a major backlash during its public participation stage.
The controversial Finance Bill eventually became law and is currently being challenged in court by different petitioners led by Busia Senator Okiya Omtata.
President William Ruto's dream of fulfilling his Housing campaign promise recently received a major boost through the launch of the Building Climate Resilience of the Urban Poor Initiative during the Africa Climate Summit 2023.
“This will go a long way in realizing our dream of social housing,” the president said then.
The chairperson of the Council of Governors Anne Waiguru says County Governments are entering into an MOU with the National Government in order to implement the project.
“We as county Governments have already allocated land,” Waiguru says.
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