Plan to transform Thika into city kicks off

Kiambu County Governor Kimani Wamatangi. [George Njunge, Standard]

A technical committee has been established to kick-start the process of transforming Thika town into an Industrial city.

This followed the move by Kiambu County Governor Kimani Wamatangi to appoint the committee through a gazette notice handing the members the task of overseeing the process that will culminate in President William Ruto conferring a charter to Thika town.

Once established, Thika will be the first city in the Mt. Kenya region and is expected to create an additional 50,000 job opportunities to spur economic growth.

The committee members are drawn from diverse sectors, including the business community, the Kenya Institute of Planners, the Kenya Institute of Public Accountants, the Kenya Institute of Architecture, the Law Society of Kenya, the Association of Urban Areas and Cities and the Kenya Institute of Planners.

Sylvia Kasanga has been picked to represent architects,  Gitu Kahengeri (lawyers), Zachary Ng'ang'a (Urban Areas and Cities), T.G Ndorongo (planners), Jeanter Warigia (accountants), Julius Macharia (Surveyors) and Ms Cecilia Mwangi to represent business community.

Thika, strategically located as the gateway to Mt. Kenya and parts of Eastern and North Eastern regions, holds special significance in our county.

It boasts numerous industries, learning institutions as well as well-established transport and communication systems, all of which have contributed to its economic growth and population growth.

During a ceremony held at the County headquarters, Governor Wamatangi said that Thika, once a thriving industrial hub of the country, has the potential to evolve into a modern city teeming with vibrancy.

He urged the technical team to carry out their task without any political interference, citing a previous attempt that was muddled by political intrigues.

“Thika constituency lost Sh1 billion for infrastructure development because politics obstructed the Thika Industrial Smart City project. Let us ensure that politics does not impede progress this time round,” the Governor told the team.

Wamatangi noted that his administration has already laid the groundwork for the city by selecting key facilities in Thika for upgrade, including markets, stadiums, bus parks and recreational facilities.

“The Jamhuri market, which is an old facility, is earmarked for a complete overhaul, while the Makongeni bus park has already been renovated and modernized. We will install modern kiosks for traders and construct a modern ICT hub,” said the County Chief.

He added: “We are in discussions with the Judiciary and the Prison Department to allocate them alternative land, freeing up space for the expansion of Thika City. This project will be massive.”

According to the Governor, once upgraded to a city, Thika will attract grants of approximately Sh1 billion per year for infrastructural development, including tarmacking of roads, drainage, street lighting, water connectivity and sewerage system among others.

“Upon attaining city status, Thika will experience substantial benefits, including infrastructural development, improved social standards, and economic growth through establishing new businesses, increased property values, and economic empowerment via a 24-hour economy,” Wamatangi said.

The governor said projects to give Thika a befits city status were in motion and include the proposed dualling of a section of Thika-Garrisa road and increase water capacity at Sh5.7 billion.

Wamatangi said he successfully lobbied for these during a meeting with the president on October 23, 2022, at State House.

Also on the list is the Economic Processing Zone (EPZ), which has already been gazetted after Mr Wamatangi set aside 324 acres of the ceded Delmote Land for 25,000 affordable housing units, an international-standard stadium whose first phase is underway, markets and hospitals. 

The County has also partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to manage waste better at the Kang'oki dumpsite that adopts inventive semi-aerobic landfill techniques.

The County Executive Committee Member of Housing, Planning, and Urban Development Salome Wainaina said Thika is set for monumental transformation with city status, with the recently gazetted Export Processing Zone being the highlight.

“We anticipate the initiation of numerous development projects with the Thika Industrial Smart City. We expect many investors to establish their businesses here, which will create job opportunities for our youth,” said Wainaina.

 Muthoni said the County had set aside Sh150 million for the infrastructure projects in the area, which include bitumen standard roads, walkways, social hall, drainage, and high mast floodlights and 5,000 title deeds for residents living in the settlement.

Mr. Martin Kagiri, the acting Chief Officer Municipal Adminstration and Urban Development said that data on social and physical infrastructure, revenue generation, land use, population and development control have already been gathered.

This progress puts the process of transforming Thika into a city at 60 percent completion, he added.

Following the committee's creation, Mr Kangiri said, the county would begin public participation, write a report, and then draft a charter and an integrated development plan to be presented to the County Assembly for approval.

"Upon approval by the County Assembly, the report will be presented to the Senate for deliberation and adoption, with subsequent submission to President William Ruto for the designation of Thika town as a Smart City," Kagiri said.

Kamenu Ward MCA Peter Mburu, who was present during the function, said all the 5 MCA in Thika were behind the project and will mobilise residents to support it.

As the elected Members of County Assembly from Thika Constituency, the five of us (Thika Township, Ngoliba, Gatuanyaga, Hospital and Kamenu wards), we are ready and willing to support the governor in ensuring that we realize Thika Industrial Smart City. We will ensure that politics do not affect the process,” Mburu said.