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6,000 new houses to end crunch

The housing crunch is set to ease with the construction of more than 6,000 new houses to be put up by the national government on land identified in Park Road, Shauri Moyo and Starehe.

In Park Road the houses will occupy nine acres while in Shauri Moyo they will occupy 11.5 acres and Starehe 20 acres. Some 1,000 units will be put up in Park Road, 1,200  in Shauri Moyo and 4,000 in Starehe.

These are part of the new 300,000 houses the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development intends to build in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu and Nakuru.

The ministry has already invited firms to express interest to finance, design, construct and manage the houses.

The bids will be opened at the end of this month at Ardhi House upon which the winning bidders will be named and thereafter ground-breaking undertaken by end of February.

It is expected that the construction will take about two years, while the firms would run the houses and transfer them to the State in about 10 years.

“The government has not been constructing enough houses for the citizens and the private sector has mainly focused on the high income bracket,” Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu told about 200 contractors who had gathered at the Kenya Building and Research Centre Conference room for the pre-expression of interest conference.

“It is for this reason that the Government has come up with a Public-Private-Partnership (PPPs) contractual arrangement to develop housing units in this country,”  the secretary said.

Ngilu’s meeting with the contractors comes hot on the heels of last week’s forum with other players in the construction industry at which she explained issues relating to the procurement process.

Most of the questions raised by the contractors centred on subsidies, guarantees and how hurdles relating to land would be dealt with.

The housing sector in Nairobi and the country over has experienced many challenges as demand continues to far outstrip supply.

In the 1980s the shortfall of urban housing was estimated at about 60,000 units a year. However, the figure rose to over 150,000 units by 2005 and currently it is estimated at over 250,000, according to ministry figures.