Nairobi News

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Lack of title deeds in Kibera costs Kenya Sh100bn – World Bank

The World Bank says lack of title deeds for Nairobi’s Kibera slum residents could be costing the economy up to Sh103 billion.

The bank, in a report, says the tiny clique of faceless investors who have built shacks for Kibera’s estimated 250,000 residents are making a kill from the slum dwellers through rent and other service charges at the expense of bigger economic benefit, which would be derived if the land was titled and had permanent building on it.

“The land is owned by the government but managed by slumlords and political elite who control the land and have no interest in redevelopment (because they do not own the land), which would take away their very profitable slum business,” the World Bank says in the report.

Over 90 per cent of the slum dwellers are tenants of the shacks, the average size of which is 12 feet square, costing as low as Sh700 monthly.

The informal settlement has recently also morphed into a cash cow from slum tourism while several groups have set up non-governmental organisations (NGOs) meant to spruce up the area’s health and education.

ROBBED ECONOMY

The World Bank says the Kenyan economy is robbed of $1 billion (Sh103 billion) in foregone capital value for not developing the slum.

“Rough calculations based on 1,000 acres of land at four kilometres from the centre suggest that the gains of converting Kibera would reach $1 billion,” it says.

“The surplus generated by such a transformation could be used to help relocate tenants and potentially buy off the people blocking redevelopment, but transformation would require making deals with slumlords.”

Land ministry officials on Monday were quick to deflect blame from an apparent failure to better manage the property, saying that a community land title deed for the slum is ready for issuance.

“We will soon be issuing the title to the community land management committee that will be constituted by Kibera residents,” said Lands secretary Jacob Kaimenyi.

The Community Land Act allows residents to elect between seven and 15 committee members who, with the approval of the people, can convert the communal land to private property.

Prof Kaimenyi reckons that the yet-to-be constituted committee will, thereafter, decide to what economic use the land will be put.

POLITICAL INTERFERENCE

Asked on the safeguards against political interference, the CS said; “The law is very clear on how to go about it.”

Records indicate the original slum dwellers were the Nubian community from the Kenya/Sudan border but over the years other people have poured in.

This has resulted in overcrowded shacks, poor sanitation, and grinding poverty, bringing to the fore the lack of political willpower to modernise the area.