The Buxton Housing project does not and will not address the housing crisis in Mombasa County.
5th March 2021 has been marked with tears and a feeling of social seclusion and marginalization. Today, two years later, affordable and decent housing has remained nothing but a pipedream to Buxton evictees and other low-income segment of the Kenyan society.
The infamous Buxton Housing Project has been lauded as a great success but has brought nothing but misery and suffering to the 520 former tenant who were evicted and poorly compensated. The government chose eviction over a comprehensive resettlement plan. It chose tokenism over proper consultations and negotiations. Instead of offering social rental housing and tenant purchase scheme, the government preferred home ownership-a choice which is at odds with the low standard of living of the majority of the people of Mombasa. The project is on record as a project of a private investor whose mission is only one: PROFIT-MAKING.
Housing people is not the primary goal of a private investor. The sole aim of a private investor is to make profits and that is why Buxton Point Apartment Limited (the investor) has a share of 90% (1665 units) of the total 1850 Buxton housing units while the County government of Mombasa’s share has been reduced to 10% (185 units). These 185 houses are allegedly meant to provide social rental housing to low-income earners, a negligible figure for 61% of the population living in informal settlements of Mombasa. And so, we wonder is the government providing housing or increasing homelessness? Typically, shouldn’t a country have enough stock of social housing in order to reduce landlordism and rental speculation?
Our position is that Buxton public land was unlawfully leased to Buxton Point Apartments Limited for individual interest and not to serve public interest. By allowing the private investor to part with public land for 99 years to make profit is a clear indication that the government does not have the interest of the downtrodden in the housing agenda.
The County Government of Mombasa and Buxton Point Apartment Limited will be handing over an illegality to the rich at the expense of the poor. The County Government will be handing over houses that have been built on impunity, disregard of the authority of courts and values of the Constitution.
As the handing over process approaches, Haki Yetu Organization together with Coast Land Non-State Actors, Buxton evictees and the public at large are gathered here to express concerns with a view to draw attention to the need to prevent and protect against further illegal privatization of public land for private benefit.
NATIONAL LAND COMMISSION & EACC
The silence of the National Land Commission and the Ethics and Anticorruption Commission amounts to sanitizing and approving an illegality. We proceed to therefore ask, for how long will they refuse to rise to the greater call of protecting public resources?
CALL FOR ACTION
In light of the foregoing and in the interest of ensuring that the people of Mombasa are not deprived of the protection enshrined in Article 43 of the Constitution, we hereby:
- DEMAND that the County Government of Mombasa CEASE AND DESIST from further interference in the remaining old estates sitting on public land until the urban renewal and redevelopment project is revisited with the aim of serving public interest and not the interests of a few individuals.
- CALL ON the County Government of Mombasa to implement the urban renewal project by adopting the low-cost housing concept that has been programmed and muted by the National Government.
- CALL ON the National Land Commission and Ethics and Anticorruption to explain its failure to address the issue of the irregular and illegal acquisition of public land.
- CALL ON the Ethics and Anticorruption Commission to protect public assets from being irregularly allocated to private individuals to the detriment of the greater public.
- DEMAND that the County Government keeps its promise and obeys court orders be furnishing us with the list of Buxton Phase one beneficiaries.
- DEMAND that the County Government of Mombasa to ensure that in the Buxton second phase of ownership, the Tenant Purchase Scheme be mandatory and that Buxton evictees be given priority. They cannot stand idly by but protect the public interest.
We applaud the senate for considering a second petition last week that was submitted by former Buxton tenants with the support of Haki Yetu Organization in a bid to have the Buxton investigations finalized.
It is our hope that the new senate committee will expeditiously finalize the investigations and make its independent report and recommendations in order to crack the whip on such irregular land allocation cases and expose such illegalities for it to serve as a deterrent to other developers and public officers that tend to disregard the law and procedures.
Finally, we reiterate that we shall continuously monitor the urban renewal until it is consistent with constitutional parameters and its enshrined principles. We simply cannot remain silent where the rules are flagrantly breached.
Dated: 7/3/2023, Mombasa
Fr. Gabriel Dolan- (Haki Yetu Organisation)
Munira Ali (Haki Yetu Organisation)
John Samuel Tsuma– (Buxton Estate Welfare Committee)