Affluent homeowners in Kisumu’s upmarket estate Milimani who value privacy have opted to sell their mansions and use the money to buy and build houses in less-populated areas such as Kogony, Kisian, Riat and Wigot.
Most of the homes in the serene estate which house the who-is-who in Nyanza are being demolished to pave the way for lucrative multi-storey buildings.
A number of constructions are ongoing, but original residents say the new units are ‘‘indecent’’ and crowding the estate.
Paul Tumbo, a land and house agent with Paultop Agencies said Milimani estate is now the home of real estate companies, institutions and corporates as original residents move to the peripheries.
‘‘For instance, areas around Kisumu International Airport have attracted a large number of buyers,” he said.
Ben Osewe, the Kisumu county director of housing said Milimani is becoming more attractive to developers because of its close proximity to the central business district and it has good roads.
“Most of the investors opt to make maximum use of the land by building storey-buildings to cater for the increasing number of middle-class citizens who want to live in an area that was a preserve of the affluent over a decade ago,” he said.
The estate is also near State House, Office of the Governor, Central Bank of Kenya, luxurious Acacia Premier and Sovereign hotels.
Other than residential houses, the demand for office space has grown as most clients prefer Milimani which is less congested. As developers scramble for land in Milimani, the prices have skyrocketed.
“There is inherently limited supply of land in Milimani which has put pressure on land prices,” said Mr Tumbo.
A quarter an acre of land now ranges between Sh20 to Sh30 million for the parcels next to the CBD while one can spend about Sh10 million on land towards Ring Road that runs parallel to Nyalenda, one of the largest informal settlements in Kisumu.
The leafy Milimani lost its exclusivity after the county assembly eased rules on high-rise buildings, allowing up to 12 storeys from the previous three.
Audi Ogada, a chairman of Kisumu City Residents Voice has faulted the county government for failing to engage the residents before the change of rules.
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He said while changes in land use are inevitable with the growing population and increased demand for buildings, Milimani has witnessed unplanned constructions which could pose security threats to the residents.
“Kisumu needs to come up with clear zoning regulations and guidelines on development of structures that conform to modern trends,” Mr Ogada said.
Some developers have gone ahead and to built apartments without even running public notices in newspapers to inform residents as required by law, he added.
Mr Ogada pointed out that most of the buildings came up between 2012 and 2014 when the former municipal council was winding up.
‘‘Instead of interfering with a well-designed and well-planned residential estate, let the county government redevelop the old dilapidated estates that were built by the National Housing Corporation in 90s. There are houses which lie on prime land and close to the CBD like Lumumba, Shauri Moyo, Anderson and even the old Railways houses,’’ he said.