EXAMINING THE CONDITIONS AND PROSPECTS OF OLD INSTITUTIONAL HOUSING ESTATES IN NAIROBI, A CASE OF NGARA EAST RAILWAY HOUSING

ABSTRACT
Ngara East Railway Housing was built during the colonial period to house the middle class group of Asians working in the Kenya Uganda railway. After independence, the Asians left for their homes and others chose better residences in the city. The houses were then taken over by the middle income Africans as the high income settled in the European areas while the low income remained in Eastlands and in the informal settlements. The Kenya Railways Corporation did a commendable job by providing its workers with housing facilities as soon as the railway transport became operational in Kenya. If that had been the case for all the employers, Kenya would not be suffering from the current severe housing shortages. However, this railway estate has for a long time been poorly managed. The maintenance system is also wanting, a phenomenon that is rendering it derelict. The study therefore set out to examine the conditions
and prospects associated with this old institutional housing estate with respect to its maintenance,
tenure system, space use and the institutional management and propose ways of ensuring that it
meets both current and future needs.
The study involved secondary and primary data collection approaches, a field survey was carried
out by involving the households through the use of household questionnaires and key informants
through the use of interview schedules. Data collected from the primary sources is presented in chapter three and four in the form of photos, written texts, pie charts and bar graphs which brings out a clear picture of the situation on the ground. The study discerned that the increased occupancy rate realized over the years coupled by the poor maintenance experienced in the estate has resulted to; inadequate housing facilities, overstretching and decay of the available housing and infrastructure services. The predominant residential function of the estate has resulted to the sprouting of informal economic activities in the estate in form of retail kiosks, fruits and vegetable vendors, eating points, carpentry and small
scale urban agriculture . This has resulted to the distortion of the physical environment as the materials used for the construction of the structures are neither uniform nor permanent. The problem of inadequate housing facilities has been addressed by erecting extensions within the dwelling units which act as additional housing facilities as well as a source of income to the residents by subletting to other people. A few residents have renovated their dwelling units by repainting the walls, windows and doors to address the problem of poor maintenance. The problem of dysfunctional infrastructure facilities has been addressed through the use of private service providers.
The interventions by the area residents to address the challenges they face are indications of their needs all of which must be incorporated in the chosen re-planning model. In this regard, the renewal approach should holistically address all the issues ranging from the derelict living environment to the informal economic activities all over the estate. There are three possible renewal models for the estate examined which includes; total redevelopment, rehabilitation and preservation as well as an integration of the total redevelopment and the rehabilitation and preservation models. All the alternatives have their pros and cons. However, under careful evaluation, the one which addresses fully the problem of dilapidated environment and has greater economic gains was chosen.
Thus, the study recommended for a total redevelopment of the estate by observing measures that promote sustainability. The new developments will comprise of 75% commercial and 25% residential use. The redevelopment approach will encompass several aspects which include: provision of a range of affordable and quality housing typologies, encouraging community and stakeholder participation, mixing of land uses and provision of quality public spaces and recreational areas.

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