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Kenya PM defends slum project

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 10 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga maintained on Thursday that the ongoing slum upgrading programme in Kibera would continue as scheduled despite attempts to derail the exercise.

He said the project was set to assume the second phace once residents of the area earmarked for relocation and subsequent resettlement occupied the new housing units in a week’s time.

The Premier told residents of the sprawling slum that at least Sh1 billion was factored in the current financial year for construction of more than 2000 units under the second phase of the exercise in Soweto East.

“I cannot comment about a matter that is in court but we aim to improve and empower the living standard of slum dwellers in a wider effort to fight poverty," he asserted.

Mr Odinga announced that those allocated the more than 800 units under the first phase of the exercise were expected to move in to their new houses by September 16 and their shanties cleared to pave way for the second phase.

He insisted that most land acquisition in informal settlements were purely on temporary allotment documents whose lease expired at the whims of the government with or without prior notification of intension to revert ownership to the state.

“The government is the landlord of such public utility land and that is why those claiming ownership were given Temporary Allotment Licenses for them not to pay land rates and rents during their occupation,” the Premier said.

He however said the Nubian community was exempted in the current arrangement due to their unique occupation in the slum where they have put claim as their only ancestral home in the country unlike other ethnic groupings in the area.

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“We have taken the interest of every grouping in the slum into account and that is why we have set aside and processed a communal title deed for the Nubian people whose ancestral land lies within the slum,” Mr Odinga reassured.

He reiterated his earlier assertion that the new occupants would still pay the rent they used to remit for their shanties but advised them to commercialise part of the units to generate funds for the purchase the houses altogether.

Mr Odinga however decried the delay in the implementation of the second phase but expressed optimism that the time lapse could be recovered since the imported building model was faster and cost effective.

The Premier assured residents that chances were high that the 2000 proposed units could be completed within a span of 12 months unlike the building structures used in the first phase which took almost four years.

He said the new model which was an import from Malaysia was flexible and easy to put up within a short time compared to the concrete design used in the country.


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