Why government postponed handover of Pangani houses

By Milliam Murigi
Friday, June 18th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Pangani affordable housing units under construction. Photo/PD/JOHN OCHIENG

Housing Principal Secretary Charles Hinga has called on development partners undertaking affordable housing projects to adopt innovative construction technologies to fast-track construction of the units.

Speaking at the site of the Pangani affordable housing project on a visit to evaluate progress, Hinga said it is only through the use of innovative technologies, that the Jubilee government will manage to construct the promised 500,000 units before its term lapses.

“I know we are not where we expected to be at this time, but we will eventually get there.

Technology has promised us that it is possible to deliver the above numbers, but this will only be possible if different developers embrace it,” he said. 

The government was confident of completing and handing over the first phase, —of about 1,042 units— to their owners this past February, but cited delays occassioned by red tape at the county govenment.  

Public private partnerships

He said the use of technology will enable developers to at least build one floor every week, which will shorten time taken to construct a building.

He said developers need to stop relying on traditional construction methods, which are not only time consuming, but also expensive.

“We are looking for committed partners to ensure that we deliver all the promised units by next year,” he said adding, “So far, the progress is good and we will soon be giving a breakdown of how many affordable units have been built countrywide.” 

To ensure that this dream becomes a reality, Hinga says that the government will be introducing a new module, which is largely driven by the private sector, because they are more capable of delivering, now that the government already has many issues to deal with.

“We don’t want to compete (for funds)with the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and protection gears, which are crucial at this time.

That is why we want private developers to be on the forefront of this affordable housing agenda.

We believe that the government can successfully collaborate with the private sector to deliver affordable housing,” he said.

The Sh25 billion project that sits on 5.2 acres of land valued at Sh5 billion is an initiative by the Nairobi County Government in partnership with Tecnofin Kenya Limited to renew and re-create Pangani Estate by way of providing dignified and affordable homes for Nairobi residents.

Previously, the estate hosted 48 houses, which were later demolished to pave way for the project.

In May 2019, each of the tenant received Sh600,000 to facilitate their resettlement rent for the next two years as construction works progress. Each tenant will be allocated a new house for which they will pay Sh8,000 monthly for 30 years.

It is the premiere Public Private Partnership (PPP) venture under the affordable housing pillar of the Big Four agenda dubbed “Boma yangu”.

Construction is currently ongoing, and when complete, the project will have 1,562 units with mixed elements of amenities and commercial spaces to cater to residents.

Already sold out

Sixty per cent of the units are affordable costing between Sh1 million and Sh3 million while the rest will be under  houses that will sold at market prices.

This means that 952 units will be under the affordable housing scheme where 128 units will be one-bedroom, 248 units two-bedroom and 576 three-bedroom units.

Some of the three-bedroom (610) units will cost about Sh7.5 million under the market houses scheme.

“So far, all houses under the affordable housing scheme have been sold out and only a few units under the market housing scheme are up for grabs.

This shows that demand for affordable housing is there and we must do everything possible to fast track the ongoing projects,” he added.

On his part, Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Mohammed Badi in a speech read by his Deputy Director General William Thuku said that other projects, which are also under the ‘Boma yangu’ initiative are expected to generate more than 3,000 units in Nairobi and will be launched soon. The projects are Suna and Ngong Road projects.

Vision 2030 goals

Asked what will happen if the government doesn’t deliver the said housing units within the set period, Hinga said the programme will still continue under the vision 2030 goals, since the Big Four Agenda was just a medium-term plan with the former being a long-term plan. Apart from that, he said that the ministry has laid a solid foundation for affordable housing past next year.

According to him, court cases and delayed approvals are some of the challenges facing the programme.

He urged county governments to hasten their approval processes from months to weeks and if possible to days citing Nakuru county, which managed to approve their Bondeni project in three days.

Milliam Murigi