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Is Dr Alfred Mutua about to build Kenya’s first “Ghost city”?

First published in November 2013

There was an investor forum in Nyeri county a while back and some of the dignitaries in the meeting asked the Nyeri county Governor to emulate Dr Alfred Mutua, the Governor of Machakos county.

Every one seems to be singing praises of Dr Mutua, myself included, but maybe a critical look into his ambitious plans for Machakos might open our eyes to the harsh reality that he might be leading his people in the wrong direction.

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The master plan published in the county’s website reveals several aspects that i would like to question in light of real estate development.

  1. Is there need for a city in Machakos? Is there real demand?
  2. What effect will the multi billion dollar project dubbed Konza city have on the proposed Machakos city?
  3. Is there real need for additional Government offices in Machakos town? If yes, isn’t it prudent to lease such space from the local investors and grow the economy instead of building new ones?
  4. What effect will Kshs. 30 billion housing project in Athi river dubbed  Iluluwe Golf Estate have on the proposed Machakos city? Will Machakos city frustrate the efforts by these ready developers?
  5. Who will occupy the offices that will be in the central business district of the new city? What will happen to the already existing town of Machakos?
  6. Doesn’t the county government already have vacant land inside the current town of Machakos where they can develop the missing amenities?
  7. Why is Machakos current town conspicuously missing from the new city master plan? Is the Governor ignoring it’s existence?
  8.   Shouldn’t the tourism and conferencing belt be build around the many attractions that Machakos has to offer instead of building a new one in the new city?
  9. Since Konza city will have many big hospitals, who will go to the hospitals in Machakos new city?
  10. Since there is still a lot of vacant land in Machakos, what will motivate the people to live in his city and not elsewhere?
  11. Is Dr Mutua trying to re-invent the wheel? Shouldn’t  Dr Mutua’s Government be empowering the local investors instead of competing with them? Are the investors being tricked into buying into a ghost town?
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In China, there’s city after city full of empty streets and vast government buildings. It is the modern equivalent of building pyramids.

Every time i think about the free land that Dr Mutua is giving to investors, i remember what my mom used to tell me, “when the deal is too good….., think twice.”

Valuer Kariùki Wawerù

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