Indian conglomerates Tata Group and Sharpoorji and Pallonji (TBC) have suffered a setback in their bid to build low-cost houses in Kenya after the government denied them free land.
TBC’s Ajay Anand and Tata international executive director Naresh Leekha on Friday said they had engaged national and county government officials for land to invest in housing projects, but no one was willing to give it for free.
“Tata Value Homes planned to establish green townships near cities in Kenya and we held talks with several county governments that showed the willingness to partner with us but none is willing to part with land. Avail land and we shall use our affordable technology to deliver thousands of homes for low-income earners,” he said.
Mr Anand said a tenant purchase scheme for low-income earners would revolutionalise the mortgage sub-sector that currently boasts of a paltry 25,000 borrowers.
“We are ready to partner with local banks in the housing projects but the government needs to come up with incentives that spur mortgage uptake. The 1 million homes promised by the government in the next 5 years will not make a difference since the population growth by then will create a deficit of 4 million houses from the current 2 million deficit,” he said.
Industrialist Manu Chandaria said Kenya needs to fast-track allocation of free land to mass housing developers with the documentation issue dealt with later like it used to happen when he requested Kenya railways for land to build his factories in the 60s.
“Before the land was available and Kenya Railways only asked me where I wanted to set up a business but today, the land is a costly affair that hampers investments leaving Kenyans with no option but to live in slums,” he observed.
The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice Chairman Francis Mureu said the government must stamp its authority in providing land for high-rise buildings instead of the hundreds of one-roomed council houses strewn across the country.