Nakuru town’s long journey to city status

An aerial view of Nakuru town on December 29, 2020.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Nakuru town’s journey to attaining city status has been long and winding.

In August, when Lee Kinyanjui took over as the county’s governor, he formed a technical committee to steer the process. And there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, as the Senate is tomorrow expected to hold the final debate on whether or not the town should be elevated to a city.

Nakuru, the administrative capital of Rift Valley and one of the fastest-growing urban centres, is the fourth largest town in Kenya after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

Two weeks ago, when tabling the report of Senate Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations Committee chair Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay) told the House: “After scrutiny, the committee has approved the application by Nakuru County to have Nakuru Municipality given city status.” 

Approval of the report means the House will now debate it and a vote taken to determine the town’s status.

If the Senate approves it, the report will be handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta for further approval, paving the way for Nakuru town to become the fourth city in line with the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

On Monday, residents called on Senate to approve the report proposing elevation of the town.

Nakuru Business Association chair Mwangi Muchemi told The Standard the municipality was ripe for the new status. “We are hopeful the Senate will finally grant Nakuru town the new status this week. A lot has been done to improve the town and even bigger projects are in the pipeline,” he said.

He cited additional funding for urban development around the municipality, adding that it would improve locals’ living standards. 

“The additional funds will be used to better roads, hospitals, water provision and other amenities... This will also improve the business environment,” he said.

Nakuru Tourism Association chair David Mwangi said elevation of the town would make it even more competitive as far as tourism is concerned. “This will put Nakuru on the bucket list of most tourists. We shall get more revenue through tourist sites even as we map out more attractions,” said Mwangi. 

Ann Kang’ethe, the proprietor of Golden Palace Hotels, said elevation of Nakuru town would help rescue of the ailing hospitality industry. “We have suffered as a result of Covid-19 outbreak. The expected elevation of the town is an opportunity for economic recovery. Hotels will get more bookings and also generate revenue from other activities,” said Kang’ethe. 

Kenya Association of Manufacturers South Rift chairperson Peris Mbuthia said city status would create a bigger market for goods and services. She urged the national and county governments to put in place measures to ensure the cost of doing business in Nakuru does not go up should the town be granted new status.

Central Rift Matatu Owners Association chairperson Stephen Muli is hopeful that the town’s elevation will come with interventions to address traffic snarlups, which he said has plagued the town.

“We are happy with the construction of the Sh160 billion dual carriageway to connect Nakuru and Nairobi. The county government should ensure free flow of traffic. We also need parking slots in the CBD,” said Muli.

Daniel Murugu, secretary of Nakuru County Public Opinion Consultative Initiative, hopes the Motion will sail through Senate based on the support it had received.

Charles Njenga, a Molo town resident, said elevating the town would spur economic growth.