‘Can You Read…I’m Well Schooled’: Shollei Clashes With Onyonka Over Affordable Housing Scheme

Written by on 12 February 2024

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei and Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka engaged in a word brawl on Monday as they debated on the blurry Affordable Housing project implemented by the government.

The two who appeared on Citizen TV locked horns after they seemed to disagree on the methodology being used to achieve the ambitious yet contentious project.

The duo’s mics started getting hot when Onyonka questioned why there has never been clarity on how the government is using the mandatory deductions, especially from those Kenyans who will not need the constructed units.

“What if you don’t want that house, who takes it? This is a free market economy. Why are you forcing me to give deductions which you are going to take of my money which you are going to build a house for me, then you force me to buy,” Onyonka said.

He had barely continued to table his argument when Shollei interjected midway saying “Okay first of all” and Onyonka, squinting his face and clasping his hands, pleaded with her to allow him to finish his statement.

“No madam Shollei please. These are things our voters ask. Allow me to ask you so that you answer my voters. We are not disagreeing we just want there to be clarity,” he said.

“We are not disagreeing that affordable housing should never happen in this country…can we please do it properly.”

The Senator went on to propose that to better administer the project without irking Kenyans, the government should forge better ways to help those living below the poverty line settle their payments once they acquire the affordable units.

He argued that the government can extend the payment period for the families to settle their debts. In this case, he said that instead of the set 30 years it can be extended to 50 years.

“Why don’t you come up with a strategy which is going to make these houses affordable to this bodaboda person you want to help and all you do is extend the period on which this family can pay for that loan,” Onyonka opined.

Shollei was quick to rebut Onyonka’s statement, questioning whether he has perused through the documentation outlining the operational model the project will adopt.

“I don’t think you have looked at the documentation and the fact sheets because you’d have seen that it’s according to your age even in some cases you can transfer to your beneficiaries to continue with the payment. So what you are suggesting is already there,” she said.

Onyonka replied: “We are together, what I am saying is make it clear I don’t have to come to TV to discuss that.” 

Shollei fired back saying: “Because you know it why don’t you make it clear to the public.” 

Onyonka: “I am not the one managing the affordable housing its the KK government policy. What I am saying is I cannot support a policy that doesn’t have clarity. I don’t know who owns the land, who is going to buy the houses, where they are going to be.”

The toe to toe engagement seemed to have pushed Shollei to the edge which made her say: “But you can read right? Are you able to read? Are you able to google documentation?” 

Onyonka, now vexed, said: “Speaker now you are saying that because you are trying to hit at me. You know I’m very well schooled, I’m highly schooled and that is why we interrogate these things that the KK government is doing.”

“We are not disagreeing with the government we are saying please make it clear. Tell us what you are doing and we will support it.”

The government has been questioned over lack of transparency on the project and which has even led to the courts blocking the collection of the Housing Levy.

President William Ruto has however asserted that the levy collection will continue and his government will not relent on continuing with the project which is a key pillar in his development manifesto.

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