Eldoret, Nakuru towns to retain municipal status

By Michael Wesonga

KENYA: Plans are underway to see Eldoret and Nakuru towns retain their municipal status.

Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011 that came into operation after the last elections held under the new Constitution downgraded more than 40 municipal councils, but left out the two towns.

The Act overhauls post-independence local authority governments following the repealing of Local Government Act (Cap. 265) after they fell short of the new classification requirements.

The Act also establishes only three city councils, that of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu in addition to 103 town councils across the republic.

Manage them

“Regional authorities will operate under counties because their functions have been devolved. But devolving and taking over of functions will depend on the capacity of county governments to manage them,” said Local Government PS Karega Mutahi.

Prof Mutahi, who was speaking during civic education programme in Eldoret recently, said discussions were in top gear over upgrading of the two towns based on amount of revenue they command.

“We are looking into plans to have Eldoret and Nakuru Municipal Councils retain their status under the new Act,” he noted. The Act provides for classification, governance and management of urban areas and cities.

To be classified as a city, the minimum population thresh-hold for urban area is 500,000 people, between 250,000 and 500,000 inhabitants for a municipality and between 10,000 and 250,000 for a town.

Local Government Minister Paul Otuoma dissolved all the 175 local authorities in the country ending their era in preparation for Kenyans’ transition to devolved system of government.

Some of the towns that lost their municipal status are Mavoko, Mumias, Kakamega, Kisii, Limuru, Kiambu, Naivasha, Runyenjes, Kitui, Maua, Moyale, Homa Bay and Garissa.

Freeze order

The Transition Authority, which is overseeing the change from central to the devolved system of governance, is taking an inventory of all assets belonging to the local authorities to ensure nobody takes advantage of the transition period to illegally acquire assets. The move was necessitated by numerous public complaints alleging transfer of assets despite freeze order by the Cabinet last year.

The management of cities and municipalities will henceforth be vested in the county government administered by the governor.

In delegating duties, governors will work under instruction and supervision of a board that will closely scrutinise his performance.