The Senate vote to grant Nakuru Town city status is good news for the residents and their leaders. It is, indeed, a vote of confidence by the senators in the town’s potential. The excitement is palpable in the population, with celebrations in the streets.
For Governor Lee Kinyanjui and his team that has been pushing for this recognition, it is a big triumph that has been long overdue. Nakuru leaders see this as the key to unlock their economic development. However, they will soon find out that this is easier said than done.
The Senate endorsement is just the beginning. The people will now have to roll up their sleeves and put in the required effort to justify the new status. The first step is, of course, to await the granting of the charter by the President.
Nakuru will join Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu as the only towns that have been deemed fit for upgrading to this higher level of urban development. The Senate adopted a report by the Devolution Intergovernmental Relations Committee, with 38 senators voting for it and only two rejecting it.
According to the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011, for an urban area to be classified as a city, it should demonstrate the capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations and have the key infrastructure. The Senate committee’s scrutiny found that Nakuru County has in the past three financial years shown the capacity and potential to generate its own revenue.
In the 2015/16 financial year, Nakuru came fourth in revenue collection, with Sh2.3 billion. Nairobi raised Sh11.7 billion, followed by Mombasa (Sh2.9 billion). Besides, Nakuru’s population of 367,183, surpasses the threshold of 250,000 people.
Though Mombasa and Kisumu earned their promotions many years ago, they are still struggling to build the capacity to merit the status. Nakuru must, therefore, get ready to work harder to justify its elevation.