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Kiambu spooks realtors with private land order

Property developers say public land management laws allowing county governments to possess reserved public utility plots in gated communities must be reviewed to safeguard investments.

The call came as Kiambu ordered developers to surrender the land to the county amidst a war of words with its largest developer, Tatu City, causing jitters in the property hotspot.

Kenya Professional Realtors Association (KPRA) said county governments cannot be trusted to properly use the parcels for public good as many had re-allocated the properties for other uses. Vice chairman Gerald Githinji, who once served as Kiambu’s deputy governor, said any bid to seize public utility plots within gated communities would make the property lose value.

He said developers and land owners also stood to lose the opportunity of selling the plots to investors for purpose-specific developments such as private schools, shopping complexes, clubs, gyms, premium recreational parks as well as water gardens among others.

“Current development realities dictate that the Physical Planning Act must be reviewed with a clear definition on ‘surrender’ and ‘reservation’ made to enable Kenya to continue attracting investments for such developments,” he said.

Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Kajiado, Murang’a and Machakos are among counties that have attracted multi-billion shilling investments that promise buyers of the houses tenant-only access to various amenities such as lawns.

 

 

Real Estate News

Kitengela residents build own sewer line

Kitengela residents have opted to raise own funds for construction of a Sh39 million sewer line after years of unfulfilled promises by county and national governments that has left them exposed to infectious diseases. The residents, comprising at least 279 landlords with property in the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZ) area, are the sole financiers of the project that seeks to improve hygiene and sanitation in the area. The EPZ neighborhood has been picked to pilot the project that promoters hope to extend to the wider Kitengela Township.
The sewer line that seeks to cover 45 kilometres and join the EPZA Athi River Sewerage system in neighboring Machakos County will benefit at least 300 rental flats and 100 homes with a population of more than 20,000 is set to be operational in six months. The populous Kitengela Township currently relies on septic tanks for waste management, but rising cost of hiring exhausters has occasioned frequent sewer overflows that have significantly increase health risks in the area.
Public health officials have expressed fear that the septic tank overflows may have contaminated some borehole water connections in the area. Speaking during the official launch of the sewer line project at Kitengela, the residents claimed that efforts to reach out to both the national and county governments to build the key water and sewerage infrastructure in the area had been unsuccessful forcing them to opt for the self-help option.
Contributions for construction of the sewerage line began in 2015 and were immediately followed by a Sh3 million feasibility study that paved the way for the three-phased construction work to begin. “Raw sewage flows freely from most residential and business premises in this town exposing us to outbreak of waterborne diseases. We decided not to wait any more for government but to do it for ourselves,” said Beatrice Wambui, a local resident.
Titus Ndei, the secretary- general of the self-help group, said the sewer line’s coverage range was decided after wide consultation with stakeholders and regulatory authorities. “We shall not relent in our quest to get this infrastructure built and improve the lives of Kitengela residents,” said Mr. Ndei even as he called on the county government to support the initiative and ensure completion of the sewer line and its extension to cover the larger Kitengela area. Lack of a working sewerage system has left Kitengela Township with exorbitant exhauster charges that currently stand at between Sh12, 000 and Sh18,000 per trip. The waste is ferried to Machakos and Nairobi counties for disposal. The high cost of waste disposal has forced landlords to ration water usage in their plots to cut down costs. None of satellite towns in Kajiado County has a sewer line – a reality that has continued to expose residents to health hazards.

The Economy

NCPB at risk of losing Sh8bn maize stocks

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) could lose Sh8.5 billion worth of maize in its strategic food reserve (SFR) that is already yellowing and browning in the silos less than one year after it was bought from farmers. NCPB acting managing director Alvin Sang told the Senate that the SFR board, which is required to make critical decisions such as selling the stock, is currently dysfunctional, leaving the 3.6 million bags of maize at the risk of going to waste.
“We are in the process of removing the maize that is yellowing or browning in the silos, but we want the SFR to give us authority to repackage and create space,” said Mr. Sang, who was accompanied by Crop Development principal secretary Hamadi Boya said.
Mr. Sang told the committee chaired by Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar that the NCPB requires funds to upgrade its silos and keep maize for more than six months. “We have advised them (SFR) to sell the maize in Kisumu because there is market there. Unfortunately it cannot be sold at Sh3, 200 as it was bought because market price has dropped to between Sh1, 500 to Sh2,000,” he said.
Mr. Sang said the 3,626,973 bags of maize in the SFR on April 18, 2018 included 300,000 bags of maize that was imported from Mexico in the last crop season. A total of 10.5 million bags of maize were imported from Mexico during the duty free maize importation window between May and December 2017. Mr. Sang said NCPB has so far paid farmers Sh8,053,320,000 leaving Sh3,575,854,400 as pending bills of which Sh1.4 billion will be paid as soon as the multi-agency team working on the issue identities the real farmers. “Some of the maize we have in our silos has stayed for more than the recommended period of six months. The maize we are holding is about nine months old but is becoming yellowish and
brownish, making it unattractive to millers who may not buy it,” Mr. Sang told an ad-hoc committee that is investigating importation of maize during last year’s duty free window that opened in July and closed in December 2017. Mr. Sang said lack of a functional SFR board and its failure to meet has rendered NCPB incapable of removing and packaging maize in the silos for storage in other locations.
The NCPB said it has empty space at several of its 110 stores countrywide with a capacity to hold 21.52 million bags. The board also has silos in the grain basket region and Nairobi with a storage capacity of 3,090,000 bags — excluding Cypress Bins of about 1.5 million 90kg bags. Mr. Sang said the SFR has to get Cabinet approval to dispose of the maize at lower than Sh3,200.
“This will take long and it’s a dilemma for the Ministry of Devolution. The maize is still good for human consumption, but the colour has changed,” said Mr. Sang. He said NCPB wants the Agriculture ministry to allow the board to buy gunny bags and move the maize to empty silos across the country given that SFR must foot the bill of the bags and guide NCPB on where the maize should be moved to. Mr. Sang said Agriculture secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has committed to filling the vacant board
posts to enable the agency fulfil its mandate.