The face of Siaya town has tremendously changed thanks to devolution that has not only attracted investors in the once sleepy, dusty town but seen the initiation of a number of projects.
Development projects are slowly changing the fortunes of the town that has struggled to find a footing despite it being the headquarters of the county but questions have been raised on the amount spent on some of the projects.
Siaya town has grown from a market formally known as Ahindi years ago to the district headquarters and now to county headquarters.
Among the projects changing the face of Siaya is the Sh340 million Siaya High Court building that is nearing completion.
Judiciary Chief Registrar Ann Amadi inspected the building last December and gave it a clean bill of health saying the works were almost complete.
The county government also recently spent Sh43 million on Ahindi Gardens and the governor’s park that were commissioned by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
Wamalwa also commissioned the new Sh75 million county headquarters.
The county government has also spent Sh165 million on renovating the Siaya County Referral Hospital.
Governor Cornel Rasanga said another ongoing project is Sh400million ultra-modern stadium which is 90 per cent complete.
The Sh100 million street lighting project by National Government and tarmac roads within town that were part of the Siaya-Nyadorera highway project, have also contributed to the town’s new look.
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Kennedy Onyango, a resident of Siaya town said some of the projects such as the street lighting project were as a result of the goodwill that had been bolstered by the Handshake between ODM leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
John Odhiambo, also a resident, noted there was a big improvement on the face of Siaya but raised concerns on the cost of most of the projects, especially those done by the county government.
Walter Okello, the Lands chief officer said the county government has also started demolishing temporary structures to create order and improve the image of the town.
He added that there is need for residents with old buildings within the town to renovate them so they conform with the standards of a town.
“We have currently stopped renewing leases of those with old buildings unless they are renovated.
“Those with temporary structures that will be demolished have also been showed a trading area within town where they are required to put up their business structures,” Okello said.
Professor Paul Achola, who is the chair of the municipality board in the county, says several years ago, Siaya was just a market and social centre but it has grown.
He said in 1940s, the current Siaya town was only known as Ahindi market where people came to purchase food and household products. It was also a social centre for sporting activities before it became the district headquarters.
Rasanga said that the development projects are sufficient evidence that devolution is working.
“Evidently, the county government of Siaya continues to implement projects with a view of improving the socio-economic well-being of the citizens and changing the landscape of Siaya town,” Rasanga noted.
“My government’s partnership with the World Bank through Kenya Devolution Support Programme and Kenya Urban Support Programme have since seen us implement some key projects in the county.”