On Friday 14th October 2022, Haki Yetu Organisation launched a research report entitled: ‘Housing For Who?’ at Nyali Sun Africa Hotels. The launch was geared to underscore the need to understand how the housing crisis and the land question in Mombasa should be addressed.
The report analyses the place of the poor in urban development.
pment, with a key focus on one of the ten old estates in Mombasa-the Buxton Old Estate. According to the county government, the Buxton project is a solution to housing poverty in Mombasa but to the urban poor, the program is another form of illegal privatization of public land for private benefit.
The county government is constructing 1,850 modern houses using Buxton public land. The agreement between the county government of Mombasa and Buxton Point Apartment Limited is that the county government will own 10% of the houses (this translates to 185 houses) while Buxton Point Apartment Limited has a stake of 90% (this translates to 1665 units). On that note, that this project is constructing houses for the rich and not the urban-poor is self-evident.
Launched at a time when the new National government has promised to construct houses which will be offered through an affordable ‘rent-to-own’ program, the day provided a platform for both collaboration with the new county government of Mombasa to help in identifying the gaps of the urban renewal and regeneration program touted by the previous administration of Mombasa; and for community leaders and representatives to share concerns and challenges they face in owning houses and their quest to be recognized as land owners.
While giving his speech, Haki Yetu Executive Director, Fr. Gabriel Dolan, challenged the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to probe the scandal involving theft of public land.
“The Housing For Who report is a terrible indictment of Joho’s administration. The Buxton Housing project is a scandal. ” Said Dolan.
“People cannot afford to buy houses. People need affordable social rental housing. People are happy to rent because it’s affordable. What we also need is security of tenure because the government cannot build houses for everyone.” Added Dolan
H.E the Deputy Governor of Mombasa, Francis Thoya who was the guest of honour for the day, promised to renegotiate with the developer in order to help the urban poor benefit from the Buxton project.
“Buxton has been a lesson. We should not repeat the mistakes we made with Buxton estate. We are going to be more open than before. On every decision the government is going to make, the public will be at the center of it. Public participation will be a major determining factor in every decision we make.” Said the Deputy governor
For a decade, the people of Mombasa have not reaped the benefits of self-governance as funds channeled into projects have not benefited the community. This was confirmed by the deputy governor when he said that the residents of Mombasa have not seen the benefits of devolution in matters land and that it is high time the county government should walk the talk.
“My office will be transparent just like it was before. And my coming here is an early sign that this new government wants to be open. Every person holding public office must be transparent in decision making process. I also urge the County Assembly to be transparent. We shall also make information available. We shall provide information on who bought the houses to know who the beneficiaries are.” The Dep governor remarked.
Author: Munira Ali
Lands Programme Officer- Land & Urban Development