The elevation of Nakuru town to become Kenya’s fourth city is slowly becoming a reality as the town continues to surmount various legal and infrastructural milestones.
Before being elevated to a city status, the Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2011 requires a town to have a functional municipal board, which the town lacked until last year.
The county government had last year constituted municipal boards for the existing Nakuru and Naivasha municipalities, but could not operationalise them due to lack of budgetary allocations.
In the current financial year, the county government has allocated Sh4.6 million for the recruitment of two municipal managers who will be key in running the city once a chatter is issued.
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Njoroge Gichuhi, who is the current acting manager for the 11-member Nakuru Municipal Board, has said the town was ripe to be issued with a City Charter. This is, however, being delayed due to the current pandemic that has shifted attention to public health.
“We are not becoming a city just by a name, but having met the requirements for such elevation. We expect to be granted the charter once the Covid-19 pandemic eases,” said Gichuhi.
The town has recently been facing street families menace, but according to Gichuhi, the board will come up with elaborate measures to have them moved from the streets.
“We shall have a programme of reuniting street children with their families where possible. For those whose families can’t be traced or are impoverished, we have plans to set up foster homes to cater for them,” he said.
The county government has been in a spirited engagement with the national government for an infrastructural upgrade, which includes tarmac roads and an airport.
Although areas surrounding the lakeside town are dotted with airstrips, the lack of an airport to facilitate fast and easy movement of people and goods has been used to demean the town in its clamour for city status.
This will, however, be a thing of the past after the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) picked a contractor in August to undertake a Sh3 billion project, which entails the upgrade of a military airstrip at 81 Tank Battalion barracks in Lanet to a civilian and military airport.
“President Uhuru Kenyatta and his government is committed to realising this dream. The contractor has been picked and will be at the site in a few weeks to commence the project,” said Governor Lee Kinyanjui.
Clogged storm drains along most of the streets have over the years remained dangerously open and an eyesore within the town and its surrounding residential estates clustered under the Nakuru Municipality.
Tens of residents have suffered injuries with motorists counting losses after bumping into the open manholes as some residents are left homeless due to floods.
“We have upgraded a 3.7 kilometre storm water concrete drain within Kivumbini residential area, which was perennially affected by floods. This was done at a cost of Sh143 million funded by the World Bank,” said Kinyanjui. Earlier this week, Arlington Company, a contractor, commenced the replacement of broken cover slabs and cleaning of the drainage, giving the town a new look.
“On disaster management, construction of a Sh200 million fire station is almost complete. The station will be staffed with skilled persons able to deal with fires and natural catastrophes to make ours a safe city,” said Gichuhi.
Onesmus Musyoki, a physical planner, was part of a team that developed the town’s spatial plan and recommended its elevation to city status in 2014.
Some roads in Nakuru Town West were in May cut off after massive fault lines emerged sending panic in the real estate sector. According to their study, Musyoki said the team had allayed fears that the town’s ground could not support buildings beyond four flours as it was unstable due to volcanic history.
“It is only a few areas on the western end of the town that have weak grounds,” said Musyoki.