NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 27 – The government says the first phase of the Kibera slum upgrading programme will be ready for settlement by August.,
Housing Assistant Minister Bishop Margaret Wanjiru said on Thursday that the 600 units will offer better settlement for the residents of Soweto East, a village in the vast slum.
She said: “We are now finishing up on the sewerage and the landscaping which should take one or two months but we don’t think it will go beyond six months”.
“We want the community leaders to mobilise the process; we have 600 units and we might be able to accommodate more because some families live one person with three or four children.”
Bishop Wanjiru said that the Ministry was leading dialogue into the issue of title deeds in informal settlements as it is threatening the commencement of projects to provide low cost housing.
“This is a sensitive issue that cannot be ignored; we have to involve all the relevant ministries such as Lands and Local Government,” she said. “Not only in Kibera but country wide the issue of land ownership must be discussed openly otherwise it is getting out of hand.”
The Government and the UN-HABITAT entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in 2003 to upgrade slums and informal settlements in Kenya starting with selected areas within the administrative boundaries of the Nairobi, Mavoko, Mombasa and Kisumu.
The Programme aims at improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020.
At the same time, Housing Permanent Secretary Tirop Kosgei said the demand for low cost housing was high as shown by a recent government survey which illustrated that most developers had recouped their invests within nine months of renting.
Meanwhile the Housing Assistant Minister has questioned the demolitions of property by the local authorities terming it inhumane.
She said the council should consider dialogue with the affected people instead of destroying their source of livelihood.
Bishop Wanjiru accused the council for failing of implement a relocation plan before embarking on the forced evictions and demolition of structures in urban centres.
“I do discredit the Local Government for demolishing people’s livelihood so that we are able to move them; if you want to construct something on public land you can give them alternative land like we have done in Kibera.”
She argues that the issue of absentee landlords must be addressed saying that most developments in the city were held up in controversy over ownerships.
“How long are we going to keep land unutilised waiting for absentee landlords some of who are not in the country?” she wondered.
Bishop Wanjiru said the ministry had finalised on the national housing policy which will assist in harmonising existing laws governing urban development to facilitate more cost effective housing development; as well as increased investment in the production of housing for low and middle-income urban dwellers.