It’s the first planned estate in Voi and the only one with a sewer system. The estate’s serene, tree-shaded environment easily puts it alongside the leafy suburbs of bigger towns. Lack of employment among the youth is, however, casting a dark shadow of crime over Sikujua Estate.
Sikujua Estate is bordered by Voi Boys High School to the south and west, the Tsavo Park Road to the east and Upper Sikujua (Sikujua ya Juu) to the north. Across Tsavo Park Road is the populous Sofia Estate. The original Sikujua Estate is about 40 years old, but Upper Sikujua is a recent development arising from population increase in Voi.
The plots at Sikujua range in size from 40 x 80 to as much as half an acre. Some corner plots are almost an acre in size. Landlords at Sikujua have rental units ranging from single rooms to three-bedroom units depending on the size of the plot. One-bedroom and two-bedroom homes form the majority of rental units at Sikujua.
The roads at Sikujua are not tarmacked but they were well designed. Each plot is bordered by a road. The roads are lined with beautiful green hedges that shield homes from curious eyes. There is a shopping centre in the middle of the estate where residents buy groceries and household goods. There are a couple of bars. That shopping centre is the location of the famous, “White House.” The estate is very quiet because it is located away from busy highways.
According to the old-timers of Sikujua, the estate started off as a “site and service scheme” between the late 1970s and early 1980s. In a site and service scheme, a real estate developer sells small residential plots after putting up the necessary service infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water pipes and electricity lines. Homes must adhere to a uniform building plan provided by the developer.
In Kenya, site and service schemes were implemented by the government through the National Housing Corporation and Housing Finance Company of Kenya. This explains why the homes in the original Sikujua Estate have a similar appearance, size and layout. With this background in mind, Sikujua Estate resembles a lot of well-planned residential areas such as Buruburu and Komarock in Nairobi, Kiembeni in Mombasa and Tom Mboya Estate in Kisumu.
When Sikujua plots were first put up on sale, many people dismissed the opportunity to own homes there because the site was practically in the bush. Much later after homes were developed, the earlier skeptics lamented the missed opportunity saying, “Sikujua! ” That’s how the estate got its name. The people that bought plots in Sikujua back then were mostly those in formal employment: teachers, doctors, soldiers, police officers and hotel workers.
The original home owners are now retired but many chose to continue living at Sikujua rather than relocate to the rural areas. There are younger and middle aged people drawn to the leafy and quiet environment of Sikujua. The estate easily attracts people working in Voi town centre because it is only five minutes away by motorcycle taxi (boda boda). Well-known business personalities have also settled in Sikujua.
Danson Mwakuwona, a retired teacher, has lived in Sikujua since the 1980s. He was among the original plot owners and describes every house was built according to official plans. “There was a man from western Kenya whose job was to inspect and approve construction in Sikujua,” recalls Mwakuwona. “If he did not approve your structure, you had to demolish and start afresh.”
Unlike elsewhere in Voi, Sikujua Estate is unique for having a main sewage system. Each house at Sikujua is connected to the main sewer which takes the effluent to a treatment lagoon outside the estate. The sewage system has served the area well in the past three decades, but is in danger of failing because it is not maintained. Linet Wangui, another Sikujua resident, says the old Voi Municipal Council used to maintain the sewers but the county government has not taken up the role.
“The sewage system blocks often. It gets very bad with stinking water flowing down the roads and into our compounds. When that happens, we have to contribute cash to pay workmen to remove the blockage,” says Wangui.
Crime is an emerging hazard at Sikujua. Young people are idle due to unemployment, giving rise to a growing culture of bhang smoking, alcoholism, violence and petty theft infiltrating the peaceful neighbourhood. Some youth dropped out of school due to family problems. To be fair, Sikujua is not the only part of Voi affected by drug abuse, alcoholism and burglary. These problems exist everywhere in Kenya. Sikujua has lots of youths that are law abiding, hard working and living a life of purpose. It is however necessary for the community to cooperate in ensuring that crime does not take root in Sikujua.
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