On Wednesday, Nakuru became Kenya’s fourth city after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. Many feel that it should have come much earlier because the town has had all the hallmarks of a city for long.
It was Kenya’s unofficial seat of power during the Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi regimes.
Also, Moi’s favourite private residence was at Kabarak, 22 kilometres from Nakuru, where he retired and is buried. Kenyatta also spent many nights at his home in nearby Gicheha Farm.Kenya’s largest retail stores — Nakumatt, Naivas, Tuskys and Gilani’s — were founded here.
The indigenous brewer and alcoholic beverage manufacturer Keroche Breweries and celebrated agricultural institute Egerton University are based in Nakuru. Unlike the other cities, Nakuru is surrounded by breathtaking world-famous tourist attraction sites.
The magical Menengai Crater, the historic Hyrax Hill, Lake Nakuru National Park, Lake Elementaita, Lake Bogoria and the Olkaria Geothermal Hot Spa top the list of the spectacular sites. But despite this massive transformation and the aura of power and influence around it, Nakuru has remained a municipality.
It took the boldness of Governor Lee Kinyanjui to start the pursuit of the city charter in 2018. On being elected in 2017, Kinyanjui embarked on a mission to elevate Nakuru, a daring undertaking that pessimists thought would hit a snag. He had to overcome opposition even from within, including from Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.
A determined Kinyanjui ignored all the noise and started setting up structures to put Nakuru on the path to city status. In a span of four years, he revamped inter-street roads, cleaned markets, enhanced water supply, installed street lights, built disaster management capacity and introduced a proper waste disposal mechanism. Massive growth has been recorded across various sectors.
In 2019, Nakuru Level 5 Hospital was elevated to Level 6 after being revamped with state-of-the-art medical equipment. In February this year, the county commissioned construction of a second referral hospital at a cost of Sh175 million.
The hospital will have modern facilities. During the conferment of city status, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched a Sh174 million fire station in the city centre.
In January last year, President Kenyatta launched a Sh5.8 billion cement factory at Salgaa to boost the county’s industrialisation plan and create employment opportunities for residents. With improved healthcare, growing industries, enhanced security, better road network, reputable institutions of higher learning and outstanding leadership in place, there could never have been a better moment than this. A journey that started in 1904 when it attained township status has finally come to an end, 117 years later.
Milan Kiplagat, Nairobi