Kisii to get second municipality

Traders at Ogembo town go about their business. Plans are afoot to upgrade Ogembo to a municipality.

Photo credit: Wycliffe Nyaberi | Nation Media Group.

Ogembo, a small farming town in Bomachoge Chache constituency, will become Kisii County’s second municipality in two weeks, Governor Simba Arati has announced.

The elevation of the town, the headquarters of Gucha sub-county, is meant to ease pressure on Kisii town, whose population has increased tremendously in recent years.

Under the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011, for a township to be elevated to a municipality, it must have a population of between 70,000 and 249,000 residents.

The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census recorded Gucha sub-county as having 83,740 people.

Speaking on Tuesday during his homecoming ceremony in Motonto market, Mr Arati said once the town becomes a municipality, residents will get improved services, meaning it will be allocated more funds to develop it.

“God willing, in one or two weeks, we will open the Ogembo municipality. It will be built and become like Kisii town so that we can ease some pressure on it,” Mr Arati said.

Ongwae watch

These plans started during former governor James Ongwae’s tenure. At the end of his second term, he wanted to officially award Ogembo the charter but the current county boss opposed his plans.

Mr Arati argued that his predecessor’s time in office had ended and suggested the successor would oversee the elevation of the town.

When this misunderstanding threatened to disrupt peace among residents, Mr Ongwae decided to shelve his plans.

The municipality proposal was tabled in the county assembly on October 19, 2021. The Lands, Physical Planning and Urban Development Committee undertook public participation on the document pursuant to Article 196(1) (b) of the Constitution. On December 2, the Ogembo Municipal Charter was adopted.

The committee recommended that the Kisii County government expeditiously confer municipality status on Ogembo to unlock its growth potential and benefit residents with the development associated with such a status.

Some of the grounds that guided the committee’s unanimous agreement were that the town has more than 50,000 people, meaning it met the entrance criteria, has an Integrated Strategic Urban Development plan extending the area to 39.4 square kilometres and a demonstrable revenue collection potential.

Other reasons given by the committee were that the town has a demonstrable capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations and can effectively and efficiently deliver essential services such as health to its residents.