Nakuru town yearns for city status amid major hurdles

An aerial view of Nyahururu-Nakuru interchange at Kunste on the Nakuru-Nairobi hghway. The Government has constructed more road interchanges in Nakuru, Njoro and Mau Summit. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
In September last year, a cabinet sitting approved the elevation of Nakuru and Eldoret towns to city status.

But more than a year later, Nakuru is yet to achieve that coveted status. With about two weeks to go before 2018 lapses, the plan has been pushed to next year.

A number of bottlenecks have slowed the journey of one of Kenya’s oldest cities to being a city.

Legal framework

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First, the County Assembly has delayed passing Bills that could develop the legal framework that is needed for a city to function.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui, speaking during the lighting of a Christmas tree in the town recently, said his office had come up with a Municipal Charter, and had forwarded the same to the assembly, where it was stuck.

“As far as other parameters that should be considered such as a town’s population before granting it city status are concerned, we are ahead of the pack. We only need the assembly to ratify the charter,” said Mr Kinyanjui.

Sources at the assembly that spoke to The Standard gave reasons why the charter had been stuck.

Municipality Board

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The charter was submitted to the committee for lands last November 28. The committee failed to table it on time, only doing so when the assembly was going for a recess in a week’s time.

The recess is expected to end on the second week of February next year.

Details revealed about the charter show that it will lead to the formation of a nine-member Municipality Board in line with the Urban Areas and Cities Amendment Bill of 2017.

Four of the members will be nominated by the County Executive Committee. Their nomination shall be subject to approval by the County Assembly.

The remaining five members shall be nominated by lobbies that represent professional associations, private sector, registered associations of the informal sector, registered neighbourhood associations, and an association of the Municipality.

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“In appointing members of the Board, the County Executive Committee shall ensure gender equity and representation of persons with disability, youth and marginalised groups. The term of the members shall be five years on a part-time basis,” states the law.

Upon approval, the Nakuru City Upgrade Committee, which is led by County Executive Member for Water and Environment Festus Ng’eno, will be tasked to come up with another Bill - The City Charter Bill.

It is this Bill that finally shall see the formation of a city board of not more than 11 members, which will take up the roles of the municipal board, and eventually run Nakuru like a city.

Kinyanjui, however, has said that even with the passing of the necessary laws it would not be easy for Nakuru to function like a modern city.

To begin with, traffic congestion in the Central Business District (CBD) is a major problem, and the relocation of the main bus terminus is an issue that should be considered.

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The bus terminus has single entry and exit points, which lead to enormous traffic jam.

Gazette notices

“Congestion in the CBD remains a challenge and we will buy land to relocate the Matatus,” said Kinyanjui, adding: “The relocation will be done in a dignified and orderly manner, with the participation of all parties.”

However, in order for this planning to occur, the county administration has to look for alternative ways of funding, since no such plans were included in the 2018/2019 budget.

To achieve this, the county government may have to seek alternative sources of funding to buy such land, as this was not factored in the 2018/2019 financial year budget.

Another challenge is the lack of cooperation from the business community, which has failed to comply with some important gazette notices, such as those requiring business premises to be renovated and repainted.

For improvement of the town’s infrastructure, the county government received Sh1 billion funding from the World Bank.

The money will go to construction of an housing project through the Kenya Urban Support Programme.

Nakuru and Eldoret townsGovernor Lee KinyanjuiMunicipal Charter