alexa Kepsa admits shortfalls in housing project, asks senators for help - Daily Nation

Kepsa admits shortfalls in housing project, asks senators for help

Sunday November 10 2019

Affordable housing Ngara

Structures under the affordable housing project are put up along Park Road in Ngara, Nairobi, on July 25, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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The private sector has admitted that it has not done much to realise the government's goal of affordable housing, that is one of the four pillars of the Big Four agenda.

Mr Gikonyo Gitonga, who chairs the board in charge of housing at the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, told senators on Friday that the sector could supplement the government's effort from next year.

“It has been a difficult year for the real estate industry but we are now setting the scene and could start helping the government,” Mr Gitonga said during the Senate Speaker’s roundtable meeting at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

“These factors have transformed the market in favour of buyers and tenants, which has been exacerbated by multinationals continuing to downsize whilst there are fewer expatriates relocating to Kenya, impacting negatively on the niche market,” he said.

KEY CHALLENGES

In his presentation, Mr Gitonga identified lack of spatial or urban integrated plans and the existence of a few professionals in counties as some of the main challenges for the sector.

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Despite the major changes in improving approval of developmental pans and construction permits, Mr Gitonga noted, matters have worsened.

He told the senators that Kenya still lacks standard approval processes.

Under the Urban development support programme, the World Bank has encouraged counties to create an e-permit system but majority of them are yet to embrace it.

Only Nairobi, Kajiado, Mombasa and Kiambu have embraced the system so far so Kepsa noted the need to counties to get on board.

Mr Gitonga further called on the government to remove the human interface in the process of property registration

“We have done very little in the legal aspect. We need to improve the system of approvals,” he said, noting lengthy processes slow down developers.

RED TAPE

Kepsa asked the Senate to formulate a policy on timely approval of development plans and reduction of red tape.

It also wants leverage on technological aspects such as e-permits and amendments to laws related to property transfer to reduce bureaucracy in rates and rent clearance.

“We need to have a discussion with governors and senators and see how we can open the space for professionals in counties," Mr Gitonga said.

West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio, who also chairs the committee on delegated legislation, promised Kepsa that the Senate will put the right laws in place.

“All you need to do is to engage the Senate in the early stages of law making so that your views are incorporated. You need to push lawmakers to enact laws that will help in your work,” he said.

Kepsa further wants the Senate an adequate but in the next financial year for the last mile connectivity project, including development of infrastructure around the Internal Container Depot in Nairobi and Ongata Rongai Standard Gauge Railway sub-station.

The Senate has flagged the Housing Bill and Building Code regulations as critical in the realisation of the government’s promise of affordable housing.