Big blow to Shahbal as senators halt Buxton housing project


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A Senate committee has suspended work on a Sh6 billion affordable housing project in Buxton, Mombasa, until evicted tenants’ grievances are resolved.null

This is a big blow to Mombasa tycoon Suleiman Shahbal, who won the tender to build the houses.

Meanwhile, the Roads, Transport and Infrastructure Committee has summoned Governor Hassan Joho to the Senate within 14 days to explain the controversies arising from the project or face arrest and prosecution.

The committee said the agreement between the county government and the developer is shrouded in secrecy.

The proposed project, Buxton Point, sits on about eight acres, formerly the site of Buxton estate. Work started in May 2021. The original tenants were relocated, the old structures demolished and new housing units will be built for sale to the general public, including the tenants, under the government’s affordable housing scheme.

The Senate Committee on Roads,​ Transport and Infrastructure inspecting the Buxton housing project in Mombasa. The committee led by its chairman Kimani Wamatangi has suspended the construction of the Sh6 billion Buxton affordable housing project in Mombasa until the grievances by evicted tenants are heard and determinedPhoto credit: Winnie Atieno I Nation Media Group.

The committee issued its verdict at the Mombasa County Assembly after listening to former tenants express their complaints.

“We resolve to stop construction until issues raised by the tenants are heard and determined. We hold that the governor has absented himself from this sitting without proper engagement and satisfactory reason to this committee,” said the chairman of the committee, Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi.   

But acting Mombasa County secretary Joab Tumbo defended his boss, saying Mr Joho was travelling overseas. He said the governor was to appear before the committee by video link but that was halted for logistical reasons.

“The summons came when the governor was away. We apologise,” Mr Tumbo said, adding that he would be back within seven days. null

The committee wants all the documents held by the developer to be produced within 14 days.

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The Senate Committee on Roads,​ Transport and Infrastructure inspecting the Buxton housing project in Mombasa. The committee led by its chairman Kimani Wamatangi has suspended the construction of the Sh6 billion Buxton affordable housing project in Mombasa until the grievances by evicted tenants are heard and determined. Photo credit: Winnie Atieno I Nation Media Group.

Lawmakers said it is unclear whether the project is intended to benefit the evicted tenants, Mombasa residents, the county government or private investors.

The project’s chief executive, Ahmed Badawy, refused to table the documents, saying they are protected by the confidentiality clause.

“We have a joint agreement, but we have a confidentiality clause. I cannot disclose anything,” he said. He said the project had kicked off and construction was at five percent.

He had a hard time answering questions from the committee on the project.

John Tsuma, who lived in the area for more than 20 years, condemned Mr Shahbal, saying he had deceived the tenants.

He said the tenants had been inhumanely evicted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was the most trying period of our lives. Some people are yet to recover. Many were left homeless. Imagine losing your house and later you are fired due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic?” he told the committee.

Haki Yetu official Munira Ali said county officials owe residents crucial information on the project.

Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki said the committee was in Mombasa on a fact-finding mission.

“You are investing money in a property belonging to the public. What documents do you have? Was the land valued?” he asked.

Nominated Senator Christine Zawadi and Mandera Senator Mohamed Mohamud asked about the fate of the evicted tenants.


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