Frustrating court orders slow housing plans – PS
Principal Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga has faulted the Judiciary for giving a few individuals he described as “busy bodies” room to frustrate the government’s affordable housing project with a chain of “unnecessary court cases.”
Speaking during the official launch of the Sh6.3 billion Buxton Point project in Mombasa, Hinga said it is unfortunate the Judiciary which is supposed to serve justice, is being used to deny Kenyans their right to access to vital amenities like affordable housing.
The PS hailed the multi-billion shilling Buxton Point Housing project as a promising and lasting solution to housing shortage in Mombasa as well as key towards livelihoods in the region.
While referring to a spate of court cases in the country such as that of Buxton estate and Nairobi’s Starehe Estate, the PS said the trend has continued to frustrate the spirit of affordable housing under Jubilee government’s Big Four Agenda.
Listen and entertain cases
The trend, he charged, has become the norm in the country because “the Judiciary has continued to listen and entertain the court cases.”
“In Nairobi, we have an estate called Starehe which is supposed to bring up to 5,000 units once it is done.
But about three or four people have taken us to Court and it has stagnated for 10 years … where is justice here? Even our own Judiciary, I want to challenge them.
Because sometimes when you listen and entertain some of these court cases you encourage them.
You must always think about public interest,” he said: “where is justice if a few people abuse the court process and then we end up losing important projects like these.”
Project developer, businessman Suleiman Shahbal said 3,000 jobs are expected out of the Buxton Point Housing project which is being undertaken through public private partnership.
“If we have 10 of such projects every year, those are 30,000 jobs created and we will bring an end to poverty in the county.
We have a room to choose between making noise and politicking every day or change our own destiny.
This is not my project, it’s the project of Mombasa County and we have roped in investments,” Shahbal said.
“The housing units that will come from this project will restore human dignity and sense of respect to those living in. It will raise a new benchmark of how a human being should live.
Human beings deserve dignity. They want to feel secure in all aspects. This is where even a person of the highest position in the government can live,” he added.
According to Shahbal, the units in the projects are selling like hot cakes adding already 1,253 units have been sold already even before official commencement of construction.
Hinga said it is wrong for individuals to take advantage of poor people and use their predicaments as avenues of campaign.
“We have run into myriad challenges in this project of affordable housing. Every other time we want to start there is a court case.
And this idea that we can campaign at the back of poor people just to show them that you are the only one who understands their rights also that you can stop anything that is developmental we are past that,” he said: “I have been taken to court because of tenant purchase scheme which we were to be collecting over Sh9 billion by now. Today I don’t have a single coin because of a court case.”
The official ground breaking of the Sh6 billion project encountered a series of obstacles after a section of residents moved to court, seeking an order to stop commencement of the project on grounds that they are protected tenants and the county government had no power to vacate them.
But on March 3, the High Court yesterday dismissed the application to stop the Sh6 billion Buxton estate regeneration project on grounds that there was public participation and that the residents had been given enough time to vacate the premises.
The governor vowed to use his authority as the governor to ensure the project succeeds even as a section of tenants read mischief over its rushed implementation.