Is this the time Nakuru town finally becomes a city?

An aerial view of Nakuru town on December 29, 2020. [Courtesy]

Only President Uhuru Kenyatta’s signature stands in the way of Nakuru municipality becoming the country’s fourth city.

Senators approved a report by Senate’s Standing Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’.

38 senators voted for the motion, with only two voting against it. 

The senators rallied behind the report which indicated that the Rift Valley town had met the legal threshold as provided for in the Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2019.

“On the population quota, the committee found that the municipality has a population of 392,587 as of 2019 surpassing the 250,000 mark set in the Act. It has also come up with a spatial development framework 2014-2034,” said Kajwang’. 

He added that the municipality has demonstrated capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operation at 54 per cent (Sh996,448,592) of the total county revenue (Sh1,853,568,732) in the 2018/2019 financial year and Sh708,109,628 in the 2019/2020 fiscal period.

The county adopted an automated revenue collection system aimed at sealing loopholes through which revenue may be lost increasing its collection potential.

The committee further reported that the municipality had demonstrated capacity to deliver services through ten county departments key among them health, disaster management, land, roads and social services.

“Among the issues raised by those opposed to the elevation was the rounding up and dumping of street urchins by the county government which do not fall within the legal requirements for conferment of city status pursuant to the Urban Areas and Cities Act,” said Kajwang.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said the town was ready for the elevation calling on the member of the county assembly of Nakuru to make laws capping land rates at an affordable level.

“Nakuru town has achieved the minimum requirements to be a city. It is now up to the county government to ensure the ongoing projects such as stadium and airport are done to international standards,” said Murkomen.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula who once worked as a magistrate in Nakuru town backed the elevation, lauding residents for respecting its cosmopolitan nature reflected in its leadership.

A section of Nakuru town on January 3, 2021. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

“If we approve this elevation, we want for people traveling through Nakuru to see the difference between a town and a city. The county government must expand facilities and improve services to make Nakuru a city to be,” said Wetangula.

His West Pokot counterpart Samuel Poghisio noted the elevation was long overdue, saying all the country’s past presidents recognised Nakuru’s significance and at one point during their terms operated from the lakeside town.

“It has been a regional headquarters for humongous districts but has all along been humbled as a town. This will be a Rift Valley city. It is only fair if we approve this,” said Poghisio.

Busia Senator Amos Wako said the town deserves City status, noting it had been voted the cleanest town and its railway station the best in East Africa in 1961.

“It has remained a regional headquarters since independence. Earlier on it was the headquarters of the white settlers community. Our neighbouring countries have cities much smaller than Nakuru. We have no reason to deny our town this status,” said Wako.

Wako noted that a majority of the projects most people demanded first were in progress with a promise of completion soon.

“Nakuru has had a big name to remain a mere town. Its central location strategically places it as a gateway to local and international markets. Its elevation will be a boost to our tourism,” said Prof Margaret Kamar of Uasin Gishu County.

Nominated Senator May Seneta described the town as both an agricultural and industrial place with great potential, with a need to improve on its flow of traffic, water supply and drainage.