What you need to know:
- The cosmopolitan city wears the face of Kenya with various communities making up its 570,000 population.
- It is the fourth-largest urban area in the country — after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
Nakuru’s long wait to become a city came to an end yesterday, when President Uhuru Kenyatta awarded the charter to the former municipality. Having attained town status in 1904 and municipality in 1952, the capital of Nakuru County was the administrative headquarters of the defunct Rift Valley Province.
The cosmopolitan city wears the face of Kenya with various communities making up its 570,000 population. It is the fourth-largest urban area in the country — after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
Good governance, particularly political goodwill, are key to development. Governor Lee Kinyanjui initially appeared a lone ranger politically in his quest for city status. All MPs and senators from the county were opposed to the idea but later warmed up to it.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act gives guidelines on classification of an area as a city, town, municipality or market centre. A city must have a population of 250,000 or more with various critical public services. National government services must be available in the area and the candidate must demonstrate its ability to generate revenue to run its operations.
In respect to that, the Nakuru leadership has undertaken steps to improve facilities in the municipality. The county assembly fast-tracked the passing and enactment of the relevant documents, such as the county geo-spatial plan. Garbage collection was boosted by improved solid waste management, which saw Nakuru lose the tag of the ‘stinking town’ to being one of the cleanest ones in East Africa.
Major roads in the estates and the central business district have seen a major upgrade. To decongest the CBD, matatus and boda bodas were barred from accessing it. In conjunction with the Kenya Ports Authority, the county government began the upgrading of Lanet Airstrip to an international airport. An ultra-modern stage was constructed. Afraha Stadium was upgraded to enhance sporting activities.
These efforts would begin to bear fruits when, on July 3, the Senate voted 38 to two for Nakuru’s city status. The Moses Kajwang’-led Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations Committee approved the application before tabling it in the House.
Kenya has previously been termed as good at planning and terrible at implementation. Implementation of plans fails basically due to lack of good leadership, particularly political goodwill and support.
The dedication and determination by the county to meet all the regulations set out by the law are, therefore, laudable. As a fist-time governor and one among the 47 faces of devolution, Mr Kinyanjui has set an example to be emulated by other leaders.
Nakuru has made the evident achievements, culminating in this great milestone, because of development that is aligned to the guidelines on urban development. With the example of the brand new Nakuru City, the country will have more presentable and livable urban centres.
For perfect urban areas, developers can’t afford to turn a blind eye to regulations in the planning laws.
Mr Mugwang’a, a communications consultant, is a member of the Crime Journalists Association of Kenya (CJAK). [email protected]