Poor planning haunts Migori as town faces expansion nightmare

An aerial view of Migori Town on April 25, 2023. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

Migori Governor Ochillo Ayacko’s administration is facing an ultimate test of crafting a plan that restores order and expands Migori town.

This is as a horde of obstacles presents an expansion nightmare to the devolved unit. In the last few weeks, several traffic accidents within the town centre have highlighted the dangers that come with lack of proper planning.

Despite its strategic position as a key town linking the country with Tanzania as well as a commercial hub bringing together traders from Gusii region and Nyanza, the town is in a sorry state.

The situation has been compounded by the limited parcels of land owned by the devolved unit. Most of the land within the town is privately owned, while structures have also sprouted with minimal control in its streets.

Here, it is common to see crowds of traders selling by the road side oblivious of the dangers they are exposing themselves too. Temporary markets are also dotted across the town.

Expanded town

Former Governor Okoth Obado’s regime had admitted to struggling with poor town planning. As part of the efforts to resolve the problem, the administration of Obado opted to include Kakrao, Got Jope, Wasweta 2, Oruba Ragana and Suna Central wards which were initially in the outskirts of Migori town as part of the expanded town.

“The town has no land for expansion that is why Kakrao and Wasweta have been included in its expansion plans,” Joseph Nambori, who was the chair of the town planning committee for Migori County in Obado’s era said in a past interview.

According to Nyambori, the town lacks corridors and feeder roads which can disastrous in case of a fire. Most of the land within Migori town belong to private owners, who may not be ready to sell it, either to the county or national government, placing a major challenge in the expansion of the town.

And now, with the ball in Ayacko’s court, all eyes are on how he will navigate the terrains to resolve the problem. His officers have already admitted the challenge that past poor planning of the cost presents to them.

About a month ago, an attempt by the devolved unit to clear boda boda shades off the Migori-Sirare highway was met with uproar.

The CEC for lands and physical planning John Kobado admitted there is serious congestion in the town, saying the town’s planning is linear with development happening along a single road.

“We want to change that and ensure it is spread out. We don’t want any business along the bridge. Mushrooming businesses along the road must stop,” said Kobado.

His department plans to have proper streetlights placed along business areas and roads to help extend business hours and boost economic activity of the town. It also plans to remove all boda boda riders along the superhighway. According to Kobado, they have a complete master plan that will help in reorganising Migori town.

“We want the residents to give us little time. In the next financial, year we will have lorries using a bypass that would have been upgraded to bitumen standards,” the CEC said. The county has an eastern bypass in Suna East which was meant to be used by lorries and trucks. However, lorries don’t ply the route due to its poor status.

Ayacko’s administration plans on creating a western bypass to move through Pawnyuka area in Suna West Sub-County. It also plans to construct a bridge that would link Ombo market that is still lying idle due to its distance from the town.

“It is currently isolated and far from CBD. We are looking for ways of linking it with the CBD,” the Lands CEC said. Additionally, the county plans to rehabilitate Soko Mjinga market at Posta grounds in Suna East Sub-County to accommodate all traders selling along the road.

Kobado said they would have all buses pick long distance travelers at Kakrao area. “Our concern is to ensure that efficient services are essential for our people,” Kobado stated.

Moreover, the county plans to cover open drainages, create walkways for pedestrians, and have all vehicles use the main bus park.

More traders would be moved to Marindi market which is expected to be completed within this financial year. “People must comply with what we have planned to have the town look well. By the end of May, we would have made certain changes in Migori town,” Kobado said.