Senate approves conferment of City status to Nakuru Municipality

Residents of Nakuru town broke into songs and dance along the streets of the town on June 3,2021 after the senate approved a report by the sectoral committee on devolution and intergovernmental relations that proposed the municipality be conferred with the city charter.A crowd gathered at the county headquarters to celebrate the outcome of the senate vote that saw 38 senators vote YES and only 2 voted against. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Senate approved the conferment of city status to Nakuru Municipality yesterday after almost two years since the matter was tabled in the house

The county now awaits the presidential assent to be able to take up the coveted status which promises improved economic development and attraction of investors and visitors.

According to the findings of the Senate Standing Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations, the municipality met all requirements required for elevation of status with a population of 367,183 which surpasses the required 250,000. The county has also demonstrated its capacity and potential in revenue generation and collection which the committee explains that Nakuru could sustain its operation as per the criteria set in the relevant statute.

However, ghosts of the Municipality’s past came to haunt it after Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr reminded the house that Nakuru county officials rounded up street children and dumped them in a forest around Eldama Ravine.

“There’s blood on the officers of county government of Nakuru Mr Speaker and this senate cannot ignore that tissue. We would like your direction on how two committees can have two contradictory findings. One committee says suspend and the other says proceed,” said Senator Mutula.

The chair of the committee, Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang assured the house that even though the county officials were found to have undertaken an illegal act, the committee’s mandate was in line with the Urban Areas and Cities Act and the Municipality met all the requirements warranting its conferment.

“If you read the report that we have brought in this house, we are saying the response Frome county government of Nakuru was less than satisfactory. But we have looked at the criteria that is laid out in the urban areas and Cities act because that is the statute that governs the conferment of city status of a municipality,” stated the Homa Bay senator.

With full knowledge of how the elevation of the status of a municipality to a city can affect the standards of living of people in the area, the committee made recommendations that aim to protect the public from exploitation. Top of the list is that the cost of living should not rise dramatically and that any proposed increase in taxation should be subject to thorough public participation and ownership.

“We also recommended to promote community ownership of public projects, transparency, accountability and public awareness,” said Senator Kajwang.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen hinted at the highly likely scenario of land rates going up due to the lift in the status of the municipality. The senator suggested that the county government must sit and work on legislation that will protect “the Nakuru hustlers,” from such anticipated changes. 

The senator presented to the house more challenges that are likely to befall the common folk in the municipality and has called on the county leadership to ensure that the new development does not affect the livelihoods of the poor in the society.

“I want to say this about the various challenges that Nakuru might have. One of the challenges that they might deal with as we have captured in the report is planning. We don’t want another Kibra or Mukuru kwa Njenga to grow in Nakuru,” said Murkomen.

 “They must consider the affordability of the rates they are going to put in place for the common mwanainchi so that the city does not become a city of the rich,” added Murkomen.

For any Municipality to be a city, it must have a population of at least 250,000 people and the process starts when the municipality board writes to the relevant County Executive Committee (CEC) that they wish to be upgraded to a city. Once the CEC receives the report from the Municipality board, the CEC advises the governor that they proceed and the governor establishes an ad hoc committee at the county level.

The Adhoc committee has representation from the Institute of certified public accountants, representation from the Law Society of Kenya, Institute of surveyors, institute of planners, institute of architects and the business community.

Once the Adhoc committee establishes that the municipality is fit to become a city in line with the criteria set out in the Urban Areas and Cities Act, the county assembly receives that resolution. If the assembly is convinced then the assembly conveys the resolution to the governor who then directs the clerk of the assembly to inform the senate of the resolution.  

If the senate approves it then the speaker delivers the resolution to the president and after that, the president may issue a charter and make the Municipality a city.