Maseno face-lift primed to spur property growth
The upgrade of Maseno area to a town status is primed to catalyse property development in Kisumu county, which has continued to experience rapid real estate growth in the recent past.
The area, which started as a religious centre by the Anglican Church in 1903 is seeking to reclaim its lost glory after Kisumu County Government gazetted it as a town in March last year, and international financiers invested millions of shillings to transform the infrastructure.
Real estate sector players are hoping that elevation of the colonial centre into town status will be a major contributor in defining the property market locally.
Kisumu Lands, Housing, Physical Planning and Urban development executive, Dixon Obungu, says plans are underway to undertake the construction of a ring-road, bus park, ablution blocks, solid waste and sewer line connections in the area in the next few months.
The infrastructural development will also see installation of streetlights.
The county has set aside Sh40 million towards the earmarked projects in the current financial year.
“The work on our planning model for the town is underway and will be ready for rollout early next year.
The outcome will give a roadmap on how the town plan will look like,” Obungu told Boma, adding that the lined-up projects will be complete by the end the financial year.
He predicts a rise in property value in Maseno in future, as the provision of these infrastructure will attract developers to put up new projects in the new town and its peripheries.
“With an investment focused approach, we are likely to experience property boom here in the coming days,” he states.
For instance, the minister explains that demand for houses will be on a gradual increase as people secure jobs and business opportunities as result of the town upgrading.
Obungu says the county government is keen on entering into partnerships that seek to promote the town’s growth.
Kisumu County Governor Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, regretted that the development of the town had stagnated over the years, turning part of it into a slum due to lack of proper planning.
“Maseno belongs to all of us. What we need is not dispute, but synergies that will build the town into a robust cosmopolitan centre that offers jobs and business opportunities, regardless of ethnicity,” he said during unveiling of the town last week.
Maseno town is largely known to be an educational centre after the missionaries settled in Maseno in the 1920s, paving way for its initial development.
The town located along Kisumu-Busia road, about 25 kilometres from Kisumu town, first became religious station before turning into an education hub.
It credits its growth to the existence of educational institutions such as Maseno University, Maseno High school and Maseno Primary School.
It also hosts religious institutions and some government offices.
Luke Madende, a land valuer and Roack Consult Limited co-director says the county government should think of providing incentives to attract fast investment in the area, cautioning that a quick take-off in growth will be pegged on how best planning is done at the initial stages.
He urges that good roads and communication network, sewerage and solid waste management strategy are established.
On the other hand, Madende stresses that certain negative dynamics, such as bars and lodges establishments should be controlled for the town to fulfil its purpose of being an educational hub.
The proprietor says the county government in the growth plan should instead encourage development of sports, learning and cultural facilities in the area so that it can end up being a conducive learning environment.
“I think the focus should be shifted on improving the learning environment to position Maseno as educational hub that will blend with the aspirations,” says Madende.
He says the place should be made attractive enough to hold people who are commuting to work in Kisumu town.
“The town planning must be able to come up with some housing scheme to attract and retain people to the area,” states the valuer.
He says pressure on land could increase gradually with the elevation of the area now classified under urban and cities.
“The new plan will render certain land usages less attractive. Therefore, land owners will be inspired and will begin to re-plan the way they want to use their land in future,” explains Madende.
Deputy Governor Matthews Owili urged residents to consider the value of the land when selling it.
“We need to work with residents so that they are not left out in the growth of the town,” he says.
He observes that the area suffers inadequate and quality hostels problem, a situation which presents a perfect opportunity for private developers to tap into.
“There is big room for private sector investors to come in and bridge the gap in the housing and hostel segments,” he says.
The slow growth of the area borders politics, insecurity and selfish interests of local leaders.
As a long-term strategy, he suggests that a longstanding inter-county border dispute between Kisumu and Vihiga on the hedge of Maseno area should be administratively solved to allow uninterrupted growth.
With the gazetting of Maseno as a town, Esianganyi Sub-Location within Kisumu West Sub-county will be a township sub-location.
Other urban centres gazetted as towns are Ahero, Muhoroni, Kombewa in Seme, and Katito in Nyakach.
According to the constitution, an area shall be eligible for the grant of the status of a town if it has a population of at least 10,000 residents and can demonstrate economic, functional and financial viability.
Maseno currently has a population of 60,000.