SUCCESS OR FAILURE ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING- KENYA BIG FOUR DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

One of the inequality-related challenges that the government is currently facing is figuring out the crisis of affordable housing to its citizens. But this is not the bone of the matter. It is avoiding a housing bust in real estate. The housing bubble in real estate will occur through a run-up in the prices associated with housing that are currently fueled by demand, speculation and exuberance. The increase in demand was occasioned by face of limited supply that has currently taken relatively longer period to equilibrate. Speculators are spilling into the real estate market further driving up the demand. We are almost at a point of inflection and still there is increase in supply. This will result to sudden drop in prices (the bubble bursts) resulting to micro-economic and macro-economic effects with disastrous implications. While macro-story will be an all-round effect looking like a ‘shared value’ throughout the nation and beyond, the micro-story will not be easier to tell.

Strategy

Currently, the government will in the next medium term focus on addressing the challenges Kenyans are facing through investments that enhance the attainment of desired development objectives. One of the key pillar in realizing this is investment in affordable housing as envisioned that, “every Kenyan a property owner” and that by the end of the medium term, half a million more Kenyans will own homes. For the same amount of money you pay today as rent, you will be able to own your home, and it will be a decent house, built to modern standards as per the government target. This would be achieved by reducing the cost on mortgages and construction materials. Quit ambitious- I will tell you why.

Status Quo

The status quo is that the ordinary Kenyans are moving way out into the suburbs and this has an economic implication in that it increases transportation cost including time and other environmental hazards such as pollution. This is happening simply because the real estate market including housing is unaffordable given the ordinary Kenyan budget constraint. What the government is trying to do is a brilliant idea of creating communities with diversity, income diversity and other forms. However, this cannot exist in an economy that is pricing ordinary people out of the very cities they spend more than proportionate time working.

The situation will not be reversed by 500,000 units of affordable housing either. First, the government has weakly(failed) addressed the challenge of the oligarchs who are buying multi-billion worth houses including land and other building, a situation that has and will consistently drive up rents therefore making living within the city unaffordable-maybe the end will be a housing bust. I further speculate that the first Kenyans who will own up the ‘affordable houses’ will be a certain club. Second, though the government indicated an intervention of reducing the cost on mortgages, what will become of the expansive infrastructural development in real estate made through the financial wherewithal of spending more than the income necessitated by mortgages? The current Kenya’s household savings rate of either negative or zero thereabout and the speculated talks about interest rates caps will depress housing price and the game will be over. Third, the Kenya Public Private Partnership structure remains weak and running the strengthening of the PPP and development concurrently may not yield much fruits.

What then?

The affordable housing move would have started with encouraging more integrated and economically integrated cities/towns through such interventions as, one, capital gain taxes on higher priced real estates and second, policies or say taxes that target uninhabited/unoccupied homes/houses to help ease the levels of inequality and boost the economy.

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Ala! Mke Mwenza?

Tatizo la kutoweza kumpata mume lilimsumbua sama Bi Janet. Alichekwa kuwa amekuwa bikizee na hatampata mume katu. Ingawa alikuwa na mali ya kutosha, hakuweza kupatana na mume yeyote wa kumkonyezea jicho ama kumuomba namba ya simu kama ilivyokuwa ada kwa marafiki wenza wa miongo mingi. Alienda mara kwa mara kwa rafiki yake Yunia ambaye alikuwa mkewe Diwani eneo la Manatwa ya kati. Alimweleza vile alivyokuwa amesononeshwa na jambo hilo na kutaka kufafanuliwa fumbo ambalo kwake lilikuwa kama usiku wa giza.

Wachanganuzi walibaini kuwa ni kwa sababu alikuwa na madaha kama tausi. Wengine walisema ya kwamba sura yake ilikuwa imechuchuka. Licha ya kuwa mkakamavu na mwingi wa kutabasamu na waume kama wanawake, hakuwa amepata mme alipotimiza umri wa miaka thelathini na mitano.

Ilikuwa ni katika hafla ya kuapishwa kwa gavana wa Kauti ya Isilala amabapo Diwani Mizigo alimtambulisha Janet kama mkewe. Ijapoluwa Yunia hakuwa mehudhulia hafla hiyo, taarifa ilimfikia ya kwamba amepata mke mwenza. Habari hiyo hakuipokea kwa furaha. Ilimsononesha na kutonosha kidonda moyoni mwake. Akawa amageuka na kuwa mwenye uhasama mkuu na aliyekuwa rafiki yake wa kufa kupona, Janet. Alitamani ajinyonge lakini akawa mwenye subira. Rafiki wa jana alikuwa amegeuka na kuwa adui wa leo.

Habari ilieneo kote Manatwa kama moto unavyoteketeza godoro. Watu wakawa wananong’onezana wawili kwa wawili, wengine kwa vikundi vywa watatu. Wengi walimshtumu Yunia kwa kuwa alimzoesha Janet kuwa karibu naye mno. Jambo ambalo wengi walisema ndilo lililomfanya Mizigo kumkonyezea jicho Janet. Haya yote yalikuwa mazungumzo amabayo Yunia hangetaka kuyasikia.
Yunia alijitia ububu wasije wakachaniana nguo kadamnasi ya watu. Alielezewa ya kwamba Mizigo alikuwa amemjengea Janet majumba ya gorofa na kumwekea biashara kuu jijini alikohamia baada ya kumuoa. Akapewa jukumu la kuandamana Mizigo kwa hafla zote. Janet akawa anajitambulisha kama mkewe Mizigo.

Huko kijijini Yunia akawa mpweke. Msaibu yakawa mengi na yasiyokuwa na kikomo. Mizigo alisitisha safari yake ya mara kwa mara. Akawa hapatikani. Mwishowe akakoma kabisa kuenda kwake kama alivyolikoma titi la mamake. Ilimbidi Yunia atafute namna ya kuwasomesha wanawe watatu ambao walikuwa wamesajiriwa katika shule ya kifahari. Pesa zilipomwishia akawahamisha wanawe katoka shule ya bweni na kuwapeleka shule ya kutwa iliyokuwa karibu na nyumbani.

Yunia alijikakamua na kumwachia Mola yote. Alimwomba Maulana aweze kumkengeusha mume wake (wao). Hata ingwa wengi walimcheka sana Yunia, mambo yake alimwendea vizuri kwa upande wa watoto wake. Walihitimu vizuri masomoni na kusajiriwa katika shule za kitaifa ambako walitia bidii ya mchwa wasije wakamtoneshea mama yao kidonda ambacho kilikuwa kingali kibichi.

Baada ya miaka kadhaa, wanawe Yunia walimaliza masomo yao na kupata kazi zenye malipo ya juu. Habari zilimfikia Janet huko jijini. Akawa anamwonea gere mke ambaye alimnyang’anya mmewe. Kwa upande wake masomo aliwachenga sana wanawe. Hakuna aliyeweza kutamka “ba” wala “cha”. Aliwazoesha maisha yenye furaha na kuwaelezea kuwa hata kama masomo yatawashinda atawapa ajira kwa kampuni amabazo alikuwa anasimamia.

Kwa upande wa Mizigo, mawazo yalikuwa hayampi usingizi kwa miaka mingi. Afya yake ikazorota. Akawa hana sifa uongozini mwake. Alijuta kwa nini alichukua hatua kama hiyo. Akawa hana la kufanya ila tu kurejerea nyumbani na kumsihi mkewe wa kwanza amsamehe.

Akamwandikia barua iliyosoma;

Mke wangu mpendwa,

Pokea salamu furifuri kama mchanga wa bahari kutoka hapa kwangu. Natumai u mzima. Mie ni mzima kama kigongo.

Najua hutaraji kupokea barua kutoka kwangu. Uhasama kati yangu na wewe umedumu kwa miaka mingi. Nakumbuka vita nilivyokupiga na kukupa taraka. Cheche za matusi nilizokurushia na kuoa rafiki yako wa jadi.

Naomba msamaha kwa yote niliyokutendea. Sikukusudia maisha yaniendee joshi kama alinyoniendea. Najua una kidonda ambacho kwa hakika hakijapona.Madhumini ya kukuandikia ni kukujulisha ya kwamba nimeshidwa na maisha haya. Nataka nirejeree nyumbani. Chuki na masimango ya familia na jamii yangu yananivunja moyo kila wakati.

Nisamehe! Naomba unipe jibu kama utaipokea barua hii. Nasubiri kwa hamu.

Ni hayo tu. Mengine nitakueleza baadaye.

Mmeo,

Mizigo.

Mizigo akawa anasubiri jibu kwa muda mrefu alisilipate. Akaamua kukusanya virago vyake na kuenda kuomba msamaha moja kwa moja. Alipofika kijijini matwana, alipatana na kundi la watu wakikarabati barabara ili magari yaweze kupitia. Barabara zote zilikuwa haziendeki hazipitiki.Wanachi walipomwona walikuwa wanataka kumpiga kwa mawe. Wakazuiliwa na kijana mmoja aliyekuwa anasimamia kazi hiyo.

Mizigo alinyemelea pole pole kuelekea nyumbani. Alikuwa ameponea kifo. Alitamani kuyarekebisha makosa yake yaliyokuwa yanamsumbua alikini sana. Kwanza alikuwa amemkosea mkewe na watoto. Alitamani awaone watoto ambao hakuwa anakumbuka jinsi walivyokuwa wanakaa. Alitamani ajue hali ya mkewe. Alitamani alitamani…….. La pili alisumbuliwa na mawazo sana kwani jukumu la kusaidia wananchi lilikuwa lake lakini aliwageuka na kuhamia jijini. Alikuwa ameponea kifo kwa makosa yake. Alikuwa amewatesa waliompa kazi.

Alipofika nyumbani, alipokelewa na sura ambayo haikumpendeza kamwe ya nyumba ndogo ambalo mkewe aikiwa anaishi. Alikumbuka jinsi alivyomjengea Janet majumba makubwa jijini. Angalau angemjengea ima fa ima alipokuwa anamjengea Janet. Kijia cha kuelekea mlangoni kilijawa na nyasi na mfereji uliokuwa watiririsha maji. Alinyemelea kwa mwendo wa pole. Alipokuwa akinyemelea mlango ukafunguliwa. Mbele yake alikuwa ni mkewe. Wakatazamana kama sinema. Pakawa hamna aliyezungumza na mwingine. Muda ukawa wasonga.

Baada ya dakika chache, kijana mmoja aliyekuwa na sare ya shule alifika huku akimbia. Mikokoni mwake alikuwa ameshika kijibarua kilichokuwa kwenye bahasha ya kijani kavu. Alikuwa wa shule ya msingi ya Mambo Jana iliyokuwa kijijini Matwana. Aliwasalimu wote kwa kuwanyoshea mikono Yunia na Mizigo. Akampa Yunia barua hiyo na kumweleza ya kwamba alikuwa amepewa na mwalimu mkuu amletee. Aligeuka mbio na kukimbia kwa kasi kuelekea alikotoka.

Yunia alimtazama Mizigo ambaye alionekana kuitazama hiyo barua kwa mshangao kwa mara ya pili. Hamna aliyetamka jambo. Yunia akararua mwisho wa bahasha kwa umakinifu na kutoa barua yenyewe. Alisongea kado na kujishikilia kwa ukuta wa nyumba na kuanza kuisoma barua ile. Mara aliposoma kidogo alitikisa kichwa. Hatimaye akawa ameimaliza na kumgeulia Mizigo.

Waliangaliana tena na kusongeana. Mizigo alitamani amweleze Yunia kuhusu ile barua ambayo aliifahamu. Yunia alitamani aweze kupata ushujaa wa kumsomea Mizigo, mme wao. Hayo yote yakawa ni ndoto tu. Wawili walikumbatiana huku wakilia kwa kwikwi. Wawili wakawa mmoja.

Mgurumo wa magari ulisikika kwenye lango kuu. Magari matatu aliingia na kuegeshwa karibu na nyumba ya Yunia, na Mizigo. Vijana watatu walishuka na kuelekea walipokuwa Yunia na Mizigo. Mizigo aliweza kumtambua mmoja kama kijana aliyekuwa anasimamia ukarabati wa barabara na aliyewazuia wananchi kumpiga kwa mawe lakini hakumjua kwa jina. Wote wakamsalimu Yunia kwa furaha. Wakamgeukia Mizigo na kumsalimia. Yunia akawa na soni. Wanawe hawakuwenza kumtambua baba yao. Baba hakuwafahamu wanaye. Ilibidi awaelezee.

Wote wakakumbatiana kwa furaha.

Vijana wakaeleza sababu yao ya kuja pamoja. Walikuwa wamekuja kumchukua mama yao wamhamishie kwenye nyumba waliyokuwa wamemjengea. Walikuwa wanakarabati barabara ili magari yaweze kupita. Kijana Mararo aliweza kukumbuka jinsi alivyowazuia wananchi kumpiga Mizigo ambaye walisema aliwatendea mabaya kama Diwani wao na kutorokea jijini.

Wakasherehekea upatanisho wa kiajabu.

Heshima na furaha ikadumu milele.