President Mwai Kibaki has urged employers to start affordable housing programmes for their staff as a way of fighting shortage of shelter in the country.
Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Mr Kibaki said employers can help improve home ownership in the country by supporting employees acquire better houses.
“It is unacceptable that in a vibrant and growing economy like ours, the total number mortgage loans is only less than 20,000. I urge more employers to emulate the government in providing affordable housing to employees,” he said.
The President was speaking at the commissioning of a new housing estate constructed by the Ministry of Housing for civil servants. The project was sponsored by the Civil Servants Development Programme.
The project will see over 600 civil servants and their families occupy new houses in Nairobi’s Ngara estate from Thursday.
The President said many Kenyans live in shanties because of the high costs involved in buying a house.
According to the Ministry of Housing, Kenya has improved from 30,000 houses built in 2003 to 100,000 per year in 2012. But it still requires over 100,000 more units per year to beat the deficit.
“As we appreciate these positive strides, we are alive to the fact that more resources from both the public and private sectors would be required to meet the backlog in housing supply,” the President said.
This, Mr Kibaki argued, can be improved with the support of the private sector as well as “reasonable” mortgage rates from financial institutions.
The Ngara project cost Sh2.2 billion to complete the 656 housing units. The government workers will be payi mortgage installments within 18 years at an interest rate of 5 per cent per year.
Those scheduled to retire before the lapse of 18 years will have to complete payments within their remaining years in the civil service.
“I don’t think there is any financial institution out there that can lend you money at five per cent. We cannot even speak about the rates in the market today,” the President said.
The project includes a jogging track, a parking bay for about 1000 cars, a preparatory school and a shopping complex.
According to the Project Manager Simon Opondo, the construction by NK Brothers started in 2008 but was derailed by the post-election violence which led to increased cost of the budgeted material.
In the end, the project was completed two years later and civil servants have had to add Sh200, 000 more to the original price.
A two-bedroom apartment was originally priced at Sh3.2 million but rose to Sh3.4million, while the three-bedroom unit rose to Sh4.4 million.