The most important discussion missing in this hot-button Huruma Tragedy is the matter of government provision of decent housing to those who need it the most.
No journalist worth their brave salt is willing to stick their neck out and put the question through on what happened to the promises inside the verbose Jubilee 2013 Manifesto that is now proving to be all mud and no water.
If you’re still struggling with which direction this musing is taking, kindly pull that three-legged stool, run to the nearest NCPB depot for another sack of popcorns and lets roast them together over this toddling fire.
Here is the big thing.
As I was trekking to work today, I bumped on a former classmate who was always passionate about provision of decent housing for the wretched of the earth. We discussed many thing on Monitoring and Evaluation, and then we came to the part where government commitment was questioned. Then we remembered the Jubilee Government had a blueprint which they sold to us during their last campaign period. If there is a document I have gone through a million times picking bad beans from good green peas, this document would be it. Too much photography, too little content.
But what did they promise Kenyans on housing?
Because mine is to remind you what it’s inside there, I request not to add any salty sugar on the hallowed words therein. Lets read together, and I quote;
“…too many Kenyans lack access to decent housing. Every Kenyan has the fundamental right to a WARM, SAFE, SECURE home with access to CLEAN RUNNING WATER, SANITATION and ELECTRICITY, and this is true as well for those who currently live in a remote villages and urban slums.”
The Jubilee government will;
- Continue with the proposed slum clearance programs, replacing them with decent housing;
- Provide micro- financing loans for new home construction to low-income Kenyans;
- Encourage the establishment of local housing co-ops & savings unions to give all Kenyans better access to credit.
I know Kenyans do not like reading, the blame is not even on you, by the way. In a country where books are overpriced and scholars are marginalised, knowledge-acquisition has become a preserve of the cherry-picked few. That’s why Jubilee still keeps their 2013 manifesto online in the full knowledge that no one will even afford the bundles to download and make it a point of a reference.
But we have, and we shall continue to do so. The price of liberty was, and continues to be, eternal vigilance.
Now. The Jubilee Manifesto is anchored on the Vision 2030 masterplan. If you have few coins to burn, or your Bonga Points are enough to browse a few online pages, kindly go to the Vision 2030 website and check on the projects under the Social Pillar. On Page 2, you will come across the promise to build 200,000 new housing units every year until 2030.
And that’s where their rubber meets this road.
Those journalists covering the Huruma sad moment and giving those self-centred politicians prominence, can we stop for a moment and refrain from using this Huruma Tragedy to resurrect Rachel Shebesh’s dead image? Because even if you were to dedicate a million pages of her benevolence every day until August 2013, all Kenyans keep seeing are those photos of her somewhere doing things I do not want to mention here. Whoever will vote her back into any political seat she intends to contest on will have to be quarantined at the Mathare Mental Medical Facility for a brain scan and close monitoring for a period not less than 6 consecutive years. Kenyans have a goldfish memory, lakini hii ya Shebesh tumeshindwa kusahau, however much we try. No wonder she keeps wearing Kanye stunners every time she appears in public, even if the weather is cold and the chances of sun are next to nil.
200,000 new housing units every year is a phenomenal vision for a country just rebased into a middle income status. We are balling, we are no longer poor. Even those international scholarships hitherto reserved for poor students from Low Income countries we used to apply for no longer come our way. Tumejipanga na JAP. Tuko Mbele Pamoja. Ama namna gani?
This debate on how many housing units this UhuRuto government have put up since 2013 needs a thorough revisit. If you are a journalist sitting there waiting for handouts from State House to report on a positive thing regarding this Huruma issue, the best way to turn a new leaf is to tell us how many of those 200,000 units per year, for the past 4 years of Jubilee existence, have been put up. Go ahead, pick up the phone, ring State House, tell them you do not want tea this time, assure them that the customary brown envelope will not move you, reiterate the fact that you have turned a new professional leaf and are only interested in numbers, this time. Do it for yourself, do it for the suffering people of Huruma, do it for God, do it for your country. Then come back here and write an article detailing the progress made on this housing front. And we shall ask our people to stop the boycott and restart buying your newspapers again.
200,000 housing units every year, if implemented to the book, was going to sort out this slum issue once and for all. Picture this; according to the 2009 Census, Kenya has a total of 8.767.954 households. Now, don’t get confused, the Math has not even started getting complex. A ‘household’, for those starting to float, ‘…refers to a group of persons residing in the same compound, have the same cooking arrangement, and are answerable to the same household head.’ Nairobi City, the Census results told us, have a total of 985.016 households. That is a 11.2% proportion of all the households in Kenya.
Why do I bring this up?
If 100% of all households in the entire country equals to 200,000 housing units every year, then 11.2% (carved out for Nairobi) should be able to get a proportional share of 22,400 housing units every year (I have done the Maths, so you don’t have to look away).
The statisticians from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, while releasing the 2009 census report, also were elated to inform us that Kenya has a mean housed size of 5.1 persons. Don’t sweat it. What that means is that, because we cant have a decimal human being, we can only round up the .1 to the nearest whole person and the resultant effect is that we have 6 people per household in this country.
Now. If one new housing unit is reserved for one household, how many many nairobians, combined would benefit from Jubilee’s new housing plan every year? Simple: 22,400 units x 6 people per household = 134,400 Nairobi residents upgrading their slum life into decent housing every year. And if you multiply that with Jubilee’s 5 years (ending 2017), then you have 134,400 Nairobi residents x 5 years = 672,000 Nairobians.
Imagine how the headlines would be in August 2017: “672,000 slum dwellers in Nairobi move into new 5-Star housing units built by the Jubilee government.”
Incredible, isn’t it?
That would be a hammer blow to CORD and their quest for the presidency, for good. One person once said, that if you want to win the hearts of the people, stay focussed on social affairs programmes. Infrastructure achia Engineer Amollo Odinga na Michael Kamau. Poor people love projects that they directly benefit from; that’s why ‘Beyond Zero’ is on the lips of every lactating woman in this country even when it’s project methodology is pathologically warped.
But Jubilee haven’t even built one new dwelling unit to save those slum dwellers constantly ploughing through slimy mud on their way to and from Industrial Area to eke out minimum wage which the President refused to upscale last May Day.
But the media will not ask what became of that promise to elevate the dwelling units of these dregs of society who have, now, been left to the vagaries of nature and the crocodile tears of politicians. You will see photos of politicians hogging the headlines distributing cheap plates and foolscap-thin mattresses smiling at the cameras and showing plastic empathy. Then they go back home to their posh homes toasting champagne and bragging how they have managed to hoodwink the ‘stupid’ voting machines, as they plan on how to lie to them next time the election cycle comes around.
One day I’ll be rich enough to establish a media house and I’ll print a 70-page newspaper with no politician’s face on it. I wont care whether it sells or not, we have so many butcheries in this country they will be my primary target, anyway.
The media is pathologically hell-bent on changing the narrative of this Huruma thingy from the hard-talk real issues to those of Rachel Shebesh’s newly tinted shades and Fellaini-esque twiggy wig.
Itakuwa Ngori. 2017 Itakuwa Ngori.
By Gabriel Oguda via Facebook