Thika technology city dream to cost Sh15bn, governor says

A view of Thika town in Kiambu County

A view of Thika town in Kiambu County on July 21, 2022. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

It will cost Sh15 billion over the next three years to turn Thika town into a technologically advanced city, Nation can reveal.

By 2026, Governor Kimani Wamatangi said, the town that is located 45 kilometres northeast of the capital Nairobi will be a technology and industrial hub.

“We expect city status to be granted by President William Ruto by July. But its development will continue up to 2026 while it will start posting long-term returns by 2030,” he said.

Funding, he said, will be provided jointly by the national and county governments, development partners and the private sector. Should the plans come to fruition, Thika will become the fifth city in Kenya after Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.

Mr Wamatangi said Sh5.7 billion will be invested in water projects to boost supply to Thika, Juja, Ruiru and Githunguri from Kariminu dam.

“We will increase supply to the new city by 20 million cubic metres,” said Mr Wamatangi, while further explaining that Sh200 million of this budget will be used for reticulation. Sh4 billion will be invested in industries and reforming the construction sector.

Wealth creation

“The plan is to have a city that will enhance wealth creation opportunities,” the governor said.

Plans are underway to establish a sewerage system, street lighting and recreation centres both in the new city and other towns that will be elevated into municipalities.

Mr Wamatangi said the proposed city will have 10,000 market stalls installed with free internet expressly reserved for the youth in strategic areas.

He said Sh5 billion will go towards building an airstrip, a light rail transit system, an improved road network and the establishment of tuk tuk, boda boda and bicycle bays.

“Should the town become a city, it will be getting not less than Sh1 billion per year from the county and national government for urban development,” said Mr Wamatangi. He added that Thika in its current status as a municipality has been getting Sh480 million per year from the World Bank but with city status, the funding will increase to Sh1bn.

He announced a waste-management deal with Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

“I recently held talks with Jica Deputy Director-General Miyazaki Akihiro to discuss a partnership in solid waste management. The collaboration will see the County Government of Kiambu and Jica operationalise the Kang’oki landfill that has been neglected in the past five years and turn it into a recycling hub,” he said.

Never took off

He said that the project was completed in 2015 but it never took off owing to negligence “but we will rejuvenate it and implement its business plan to employ at least 2,000 jobless people directly through collecting garbage, sorting it, transporting and recycling”.

The relaunch of the landfill will be done in July with the county government investing in equipment, security, staff and rehabilitation of the Kang’oki-Munyu access road.

Town and County Planners Association of Kenya Chairman Mr Mairura Omwenga said “elevation to city status is only good if the professional implementation of programmes is done and all proposed development captured in a spatial plan”.

Public participation

Mr Omwenga told Nation the spatial plan should categorise developments per zone to ensure control and public participation.

He said the new city will come with immense benefits such as improved services, enhanced tourism opportunities and higher income levels for residents.

During a visit to the town last Thursday, Information, Communication and The Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said it had immense potential for education, networking, healthcare, entertainment and technology.

Mr Owalo said the new city will lead to a rise in asset value, extended business hours and a larger market owing to the availability of internet and technologically driven transactions.