By: GITONGA MARETE
Property owners in Bamburi might face huge losses when Mombasa County moves to implement an order requiring those who have built their houses on water ways and access roads to demolish them.
Due to poor planning and lack of proper enforcement of regulations, hundreds of houses built on water ways, are causing perennial floods in the city because storm water cannot flow freely into the Indian Ocean.
Lands and Housing executive, Francis Thoya, says some developers built houses in the wrong areas including access routes, resulting in the current real estate mess as most of these structures built haphazardly.
He blames the former municipal council for approving plans without assessing what was on the ground, adding that the county has no alternative but to demolish them.
“Investors who built their houses in this manner will have themselves to blame. We have asked them to demolish them but if they don’t we will be forced to enforce the order. Property developers should also adhere to stringent rules of constructing foundations in the area because the soil there is weak,” he said.
“The most serious problem in Bamburi is that people have been building without approvals. To stop this we have increased the fine on developers who build without necessary approvals from Sh100,000 to Sh200,000,” he added. Last month, as part of preparation for the anticipated heavy rains, the county demolished perimeter walls blocking storm drainage.
Developers have however pointed out that there is lack of proper drainage in the area and have asked the county to come up with a plan of how to install drainage and improve on the roads.
“The county should not only warn that they will demolish our houses. We want them to be responsible and do their bit,” said Jackson Kimeu, who owns a Swahili-type house in the area.
Currently, the old Malindi road is undergoing reconstruction, but residents have complained that the contractor is taking too long to complete the works. Some sections of the road have been closed, forcing some businesses to shut down.
Despite the challenges, the area has attracted the interest of property developers, due to its proximity to Mombasa town. As rents increase in areas such as Shanzu and Tudor estate within the Island, people have sought cheaper rental houses in Bamburi, and this has resulted in a high demand for housing units.
Major supermarkets chains such as Nakumatt and Naivas have opened branches in Bamburi in an effort to benefit from the growing population. According to real estate agents, rising rents in areas such as Shanzu, Mtwapa and Tudor estate within Mombasa Island are responsible for this movement.
Bamburi is largely dominated by Swahili-type houses that are now being replaced by modern housing units. It has now grown into satellite town and has attracted the interest of leading property developers in Mombasa.
For instance, Kenya Projects, a property developing company, is building budget homes in Bamburi targeting middle income earners who are trooping into the area in droves.
The company will invest Sh700 million in the area in a project that will see development of 500 housing units, and has broken ground on Bamburi Parkside Estate with 100 units of low cost two and three bedroom houses, selling at between Sh1.4 million and Sh2.7 million depending on the specifications.
“The response is quite encouraging because we have sold all the 100 units off-plan and have released phase two of the project which has 68 units. Our target is to develop the 500 units within a period of two years,” said Anthony Murithi, the company projects advisor.
While rents for one, two and three bedroom houses range between Sh10,000 and Sh25,000, the housing units will be attractive to investors and home owners.
“People want low cost houses that are comfortable and we expect that this estate will keep growing since it is accessible,” he says, however adding that there is need for the county to invest in amenities to attract investors.
Land has also appreciated, with a 50×100 plot today going for Sh2.5 million to Sh3 million up from Sh600,000 to Sh900,000 five years ago, Mr Murithi notes.