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Kisumu set to get fresh look ahead of November summit

By Roselyne Obala | January 14th 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Uhuru Business Complex constructed on 23 acres is among development projects the county has been undertaking. [Courtesy]

Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has embarked on a multi-billion facelift of Kisumu that has led to massive demolitions.

In a transformation exercise that commenced in 2019 and which saw both friend and foe lose structures through demolition or repossession, Nyong’o has set the next one year short-term target to completely change the face of Kisumu.

Elected under the campaign banner, ‘tich tire’, the county boss is leaving nothing to chance to actualise his campaign pledge as well as properly prepare for the 9th Afri-Cities Summit that he will host later this year.

During a visit over the weekend, President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed satisfaction at the progress of various projects being undertaken in Kisumu.

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Speaking after an inspection tour of the ongoing works at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Sports complex, the Kisumu Port, the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Mamboleo and the site for the new Railway Station whose construction is expected to begin soon, the Head of State promised to inaugurate the projects, once completed, in April.

The president, accompanied by ODM leader Raila Odinga and senior government officials, said the projects were on schedule.

Raila lauded what Nyongo’s government is doing.

“I am impressed by the progress of development projects in Kisumu that we saw while on an inspection tour of the county with President Kenyatta. The lakeside city is undergoing a welcome gradual transformation,” said Raila.

According to Nyong’o, the upgrade is meant to enhance transportation, infrastructure, hotel capacity, and other vital city services ahead of the continental event.

Economic hub

The event is expected to pull more than 10,000 attendants and Nyong’o is optimistic the changes being undertaken by his administration will attract both local and international investors and position Kisumu as a regional economic hub.

“The event will take place from November 16 to 20th. This will be the second time Kenya is hosting the summit, as it held its first one in 2006. Kisumu has hotels with at least 9,000-bed capacity, but additional hotel space is being planned in the outskirts of the city,” assured the county boss.

Nyong’o commended the president and Raila for their commitment to support the projects.

Uhuru Business Complex constructed on 23 acres is among development projects the county has been undertaking. [Courtesy]

Afri-cities is a brainchild of United Cities and Local Governments in Africa headquartered in Rabat, Morocco aimed at deliberating the development and urban renewal of Africa’s cities, and also the devolved system of governance.

Nyong’o affirmed that all the operations were meant for the envisaged development of the city as contained in his development agenda.

“We appeal to Kisumu residents, especially traders, to ignore a few people politicising the restructuring operations. Some of these politicians do not mean well for the progress of this county and have even been using money to incite some traders to stage demonstrations,” said acting city manager Abala Wanga following complaints from locals opposed to the ongoing demolitions.

Last week, Nyong’o, Wanga and some leaders from the region held discussions on the progress of the demolition of illegal structures within the Central Business District (CBD) and repossession of grabbed land and buildings of the defunct local authority.

The structures are being demolished to pave way for the rehabilitation of the Kisumu port and the county has set aside Sh500 million to upgrade the famous Kikuyu market.

In July 2019, the county witnessed a spate of demolitions at the famous Lwang’ni beach, a tourist destination site, to pave way for the rehabilitation of Kisumu port.

This exercise, undertaken jointly by the national and county governments, is set to restore Kisumu as a regional economic hub with rail, road, air and water transport.

The metre gauge railway is expected to commence operations in Kisumu following the rehabilitation undertaken by the Kenya Defence Forces engineers and the National Youth Service.

Nyong’o argued that the management of Kisumu City was in accordance with the County Government Act No 17 of 2012 and the Urban Areas and Cities Act No 13 of 2011, which permits it to remove the illegal structures and extensions on residential government buildings within the city.

Wanga disclosed that some of these structures had been built on top of sewer lines and on road reserves.

“Indeed, the sewerage and drainage situation in some estates like Migosi are in a bad state because many houses have been built on top of sewer lines,” he added.

The city’s management is in the process of recovering fraudulently acquired land, some of which had been earmarked for public institutions and parking areas. It has engaged the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the same.

The City Hall consultations responded to traders’ outcry by suspending the demolition of kiosks owned by small-scale traders until the Uhuru Business Park, currently under construction, will be ready for occupation by those affected.

Traders displaced

The demolitions in the last one year have seen a number of small traders displaced, with others given alternative spaces in the outskirts of the city to carry on their trade.

Last year alone, 800 traders were left to find alternative places when their temporary stores within the CBD were demolished.

“We have a biometric list of 600 traders within the CBD and those affected will benefit,” said Wanga.

He directed all the county government staff who had allocated themselves stalls at the Chichwa market to surrender them to the City Hall within one week for re-allocation to needy traders or face disciplinary action.

He said the Sh500 million ultra-modern Kikuyu market is expected to accommodate 10,000 traders and create space for an additional 10,000.

“We want to transfer a lot of commercial activities taking place in terms of transport in the CBD to Kondele area and Mamboleo. We want a relaxed atmosphere in the CBD,” Wanga added.

The facelift is partly sponsored by the World Bank through the Kenya Urban Support Project, which receives Sh700 million annually.

Kisumu County Kisumu governor Anyang' Nyong'o
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