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Cartels in slums rake in Sh7 billion annually

A section of Mukuru slums in Nairobi. (Photo: Jacob Otieno/Standard)

The county government loses Sh7 billion every year to cartels that control informal settlements in Nairobi.

Data by the International Development Research Centre shows that half of Nairobi residents live in informal settlements that have poor conditions with no access to basic services. 

It further shows that residents in Mukuru slums pay 172 per cent more for basic services such as water and housing compared to those in formal estates.

Mukuru slums, comprising Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Reuben, and Viwandani, covers an area of 525 acres, hosts approximately 100,561 households, and has a population of 492,000.

Housing and Planning Executive Tom Odongo Monday said cartels control most services, including electricity and water, and that this has continued to impoverish slum dwellers.

“A few individuals receive power and water at Mukuru then sell it to other households. This means that anyone living in Mukuru pays more for power and water,” said Odongo.

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Large amounts

He said the large amount of money spent by those in the Mukuru slums on water, energy, transport, lighting, and rent is part of the Sh7 billion that is lost.

“Residents do not get services that are commensurate with what they spend in a year because of the cartels that extort money from them,” Odongo said.

He added that the cost of water in Mukuru is three times more expensive than normal rates. A single water point serves 5,050 households and one public toilet is shared by 8,466 households.

Also, only 3.6 per cent of households have access to bathrooms and only 29 per cent have enough water.

Odongo announced that the county was in the process of declaring the settlements a special planning area.

This, he said, would see any new constructions, other than what had already been approved, halted to ensure proper planning in an effort to find a lasting solution to the challenges.

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