Coming on Wednesday: Nakuru’s city charter

RIFT VALLEY |

An aerial view of Nakuru town on November 21, 2019. The town is set to attain city status later this year. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially grant the Nakuru a city charter on December 1 during his tour of the county hosted by Governor Lee Kinyanjui.

“We are delighted to inform the people of Nakuru and our well-wishers that Nakuru Municipality will officially get a city charter on December 1, 2021,” said the governor in a statement on Saturday

The governor who initiated the elevation in 2018 after his election described the journey as long and winding but worth celebrating as the cosmopolitan town becomes the country’s fourth city.

“The long and often intriguing journey is finally coming to an end. We thank the President for his continued support for the upgrade of Nakuru,” said Kinyanjui.

The county government has been undertaking various projects aimed at meeting the standards for city status to be granted to a town especially on efficiency in service delivery and safety of residents.

The president is expected to officially open an Sh174 million fire station in the town’s centre. The station was recently equipped with two modern fire engines valued at Sh113 million.

The president will also officially open the Nyayo Gardens which has been under rehabilitation and tour development projects including a Sh600 million market in Kisulisuli and a 605 affordable housing project in Bondeni.

Governor Kinyanjui said that the municipality was ripe for the elevation citing the capacity of the town to generate billions of shillings in revenue, a key requirement in running a city and its services.

“We are proud of our revenue which gives us the capacity to operate as an autonomous unit in the future. We need to work towards not being not over-reliant on the National Treasury whose slight delay leaves us unable to deliver services," said Kinyanjui.

Although Nakuru is not Kenya’s first city, it is set to be a model city for other growing urban areas among them Eldoret which recently began its journey for similar elevation having gone through a rigorous legal framework.

While the current municipality boundaries include Nakuru Town East and Nakuru Town West Sub Counties, Kinyanjui said that elevation will come with the formation of a city board to take over from the current municipal board.

“The new board will take measures to avert mushrooming of slums which may also include exploring legal provisions to expand the city beyond the old Nakuru Municipality boundaries,” said Kinyanjui.

The journey to attain the city status has often hit turbulence due to politics, lack of proper legal framework, and opposition from a section of the business community.

Among the aggrieved parties have been the matatu owners who were evicted from the town centre in April last year to decongest the town.

 “There has not been open communication from the county government on how the 300 slots at the new bus park will be allocated to all the 86 saccos yet the terminus will be opened this week,” said Central Rift Matatu Owners chairperson Stephen Muli.

He said that they welcomed the elevation of the city status, but called on the county government to ensure fairness in its policies affecting the business environment.

“We have nothing against the process. We however call for fairness in how the county will treat the business community regardless of their political affiliation,” said Muli.

After approving the proposal to elevate the town, the County Assembly of Nakuru forwarded its report to The Senate which debated and approved it in May this year.

The Senate forwarded its report to the President to ascent it but this faced fresh huddles due to gaps in the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011.

This prompted the Ministry of Devolution to fill in the gaps which included drafting documents, which had never before been issued to any other city in the country, for legal compliance.

In an interview during a visit to the county, Patrick Karanja the acting director in charge of Inter-Governmental Relations at the Ministry said that Act only spells out procedures for categorising urban areas, their management, and functions.

“We have developed the first-ever two critical documents for the elevation. We came up with the citation which the president will sign, a draft charter and a report on the conferment process,” said Karanja.

At a glance

•             In 2018, Governor Kinyanjui initiated the elevation process of elevating the town to city status.

•             In 2019-An the ad hoc committee submitted a report recommending the approval to the county assembly.

•             County assembly approved the report in November 2019.

Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the process in 2020.

•             Senate approved the elevation in May 2021.

•             Ministry of Devolution submitted a draft charter in August 2021.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to award Nakuru with a city charter on December 1, 2021.

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