The real estate in Mombasa has been struggling to thrive for the longest time. This is contrary to expectations as the coastal regions attract many tourists, an opportunity for real estate to earn from Airbnb.
In the year 2012, the real estate in Mombasa was said to be the most attractive after Nairobi.“The coastal property market is very vibrant and we believe that this new branch will attract mortgage borrowers and property developers thereby growing our loan book,” said Ireri, the managing director of the Housing Finance (HF) during an opening of a new branch in Mombasa. Years later, the market in Mombasa has nothing to show, no growth, no development.
What could be eating Mombasa real estate?
The fact that the real estate in Mombasa is a secondary home’s market has led to the rise of holiday homes investment. This is said to have replaced traditional hotels in the region, leading to a steady rise in housing demand in Mombasa. However, some factors have been affecting the real estate sector, developers counting losses each year.
In our research, we decided to visit one of the real estate agents in Mombasa, Mr Duncan Ikiara. Lucky enough, we arrived just in time for his daily activities, showing prospects some of the properties they were interested in. we drove up to the location we believed to be Bamburi. The clients could not help but smile with excitement, waiting for the agent to show them their future home.
However, Mr Dundan could not help but show a worrying face, his worst fear had been confirmed. We could not access the apartments since the heavy downpour that had been experienced in the last two nights had blocked all the possible routes to the apartment. To get to the apartment, we had to use a canoe or boat, which would be a waste of time since no client would want to purchase a unit in such an environment. Further, the apartment in question was nearly submerged in a mixture of water and sewage.
Since it’s his work to retain his clients, he tried to convince them to reschedule their site visit and promised them a better experience. nevertheless, he was sure they would never commit to the property again.
“While business is swift during the dry season, things turn for the worst when the skies open up. This is not the first time to lose clients thanks to the rainy season. It’s almost impossible to convince a client to lease or buy the property during the rainy season in Mombasa”. Mr Duncan said.
“The drainage and sewerage systems collapse every rainy season. Concern has been raised constantly but the County Government turns a deaf ear. We have reached a stage where it is not wise to invest in real estate in this locality which is unfortunate given its huge potential and proximity to a town,” he says.
A look at other areas in the county proves Duncan’s words. All we could see were residents moving their belongings to safer places. Some had even sought refuge in churches and mosques standing on safer locations, children being forced not to attend school.
Some of the developments in the affected areas that were built 5 years ago could still be seen empty. Owners are now hopeless and counting losses.
Asking for views from the residents on the situation of the county, most of the people pointed fingers on the county government of Mombasa for failing to solve the draining and sanitation problem. To some people, the floods were due to poor planning and rampant corruption, giving way to illegal mushrooming of structures.
“The county government needs to map out the wetland areas and ensure that nobody ever constructs anything in those areas. They are not supposed to allow people to live in these areas. The county government should also make a bold decision to evict the illegal settlers from the wetlands. It may be costly both financially and politically, but the county and the national government must work together in this and show they care more about the lives of Kenyans than money or votes,” a resident commented.
Although the current government of President Uhuru Kenyanyatta launched the Mombasa Storm Water Drainage Improvement Project Phase 2 in Bamburi, Kisauni constituency in the year 2017, the project has not yielded much as the areas are still flooding.