Anatomy of a White Elephant: Why Sh 750m Voi housing project stalled
A multimillion housing project in Voi which has been dogged by controversy for the last thirty years has stalled again.
The Sh 750m Voi pool housing project which targeted to benefit about 100 families was to be undertaken in two phases at the Mwakingali A and B settlement areas.
The phase one of the project is about 80 per cent complete while phase two adjacent to Mwakingali primary school has stalled at the foundation level with the construction material gathering rust and dust on site.
The stalling of the project flies in the face of the government renewed efforts to build affordable housing to its citizens which is a key element in Jubilee government’s Big Four agenda.
The pool housing project was mooted in 1987 during the Moi regime, then being undertaken by a company called Intex, which was associated with a powerful minister in the Moi government.
The project came a cropper for twenty five years only to be revived in 2012 and was expected to come to completion in 2014.
The first phase was meant to benefit 60 households while the second phase was to accommodate 40 households.
The contractor has so far received Sh 250m for the 100 units but has since abandoned the work due to lack of funds.
“We are ready to continue with the project but the government has been delaying the funds forcing us to abandon the work when it was 40 per cent complete,” said the site manager Ali Imran.
He said the project has been in limbo for six years since November 2012.
During a recent fact finding tour of the project by the PS Housing and Urban Development Charles Mwaura there were indications that the government might revive the project and take it to completion.
PS Mwaura said the project will be revived through the National Housing Development Fund whose blueprint is yet to be finalized.
He said the project could be completed in six months time.
“We are determined to revive all government projects that stalled due to various reasons including lack of funds,” said the PS.
The PS pointed out that the government was following the presidential directive that new projects should not be initiated while other similar projects remained incomplete.
PS Mwaura said the regulations for the housing fund are ready and the approval of guidelines for the affordable housing programme by the cabinet was a step in the right direction in putting up 1 million housing units across the country.
During his recent tour of the county deputy president William Ruto revealed that the government planned to put up at least 2,000 low cost housing units by 2022.
“These housing units will be a boost to the county as your young people will be considered for employment in the project” said the DP.
A Voi civil society activist who requested anonymity asked the government to investigate the housing project to ascertain the exact amount of money spent so far.
“This is an ambitious project that could have gone a long way in addressing the housing shortage in Voi town and it’s imperative that the government carries out an audit of the project before any more funds are allocated for the project in the spirit of transparency and accountability”, he said during an interview with Taita-Taveta Express.
Taita –Taveta County, and the fast growing Voi town in particular, suffers a serious shortage of affordable and decent housing units.
This has given rise to mushrooming of squatter informal settlements and runaway structures symptomatic of poor planning.