Senate team's approval pushes Nakuru a step closer to city status

A view of Nakuru town.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • Governor Kinyanjui faces an obstacle as Senator Susan Kihika is expected to convince her colleagues in the Senate to reject the proposal.

Nakuru County’s application for elevation to city status was on Tuesday approved by the Senate Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang', chair of the committee, made the announcement when he tabled the report before the House on Tuesday afternoon.

"Mr Speaker Sir, after scrutiny, the committee has approved the application by Nakuru County to have Nakuru Municipality given city status," stated Mr Kajwang.

Before the approval, the Senate committee met with the county executive committee and the municipal board, and conducted a study visit to Nakuru to assess its state of preparedness for the elevation. The committee held a total of seven sittings on the matter.

Growth of Nakuru town gives rise to congestion

It established that the population of Nakuru Municipality, which stands at 367,183  surpasses the required population threshold of 250,000 people as per the criteria set in the Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2011.

The committee also learnt that the local revenue generated in the past three financial years demonstrated Nakuru’s capacity and potential to sustain it.

"The elevation of Nakuru to city status should be beneficial to the residents' social and economic well being," reads the report seen by the Nation.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui responds to questions on the town's elevation to city status, while appearing before the Senate Devolution committee during its session at Serena Beach Resort in Mombasa County on February 12, 2021.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

The procedure

The Senate committee was handed the application on  November 21, 2020 by Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and asked to establish if provisions of the Urban Areas and Cities Act had been met.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui forwarded to the Senate, the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Application for Conferment of City Status to Nakuru Municipality.

Mr Lusaka then ordered the Devolution committee to look at the proposal and submit a report to the House for debate. The approval means the whole House will now debate the report next week before voting takes place.

Governor Kinyanjui argues for Nakuru's elevation to city status

If the approval sails through, it will be handed over to President Uhuru Kenyatta for approval, paving the way for Nakuru to become a city.

Although Governor  Kinyanjui has pleaded with senators to support Nakuru town’s bid to become a city, the report faces an obstacle as Senator Susan Kihika who has in the past opposed the push for city status, is expected to convince her colleagues in the Senate to reject the proposal.

Their local  political rivalry is expected  to play out.

Senator’s opposition

In 2019, Senator Kihika, who is also the Senate majority whip, led a section of local  leaders from the region in opposing the move, saying Nakuru needed at least 10 years to prepare adequately before becoming a city.

The leaders gave at least  ten conditions they wanted met before the acquisition of city status.

The leaders made the declaration  when they presented a 12-page memorandum before the ad hoc committee.

They demanded that several issues be tackled, among them the planning of the town, garbage disposal, the housing challenge, street lighting, roads and infrastructure, traffic jams and eco-friendly amenities.

At the Senate, Senator Kihika is expected to have a  big say on whether the town should be elevated to a city.

Nakuru town.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Huge business potential

Meanwhile, the Nakuru business community is already upbeat that the city status will greatly boost industrial growth and economic development in the region.

“The upgrade of the town is long overdue. It will boost development and attract local and investors to the town,” said Shadrack Koskei, their spokesperson.

In 2011, Nakuru was named the cleanest town in East Africa by a United Nations agency but over the years, it lost the glory, which the current administration is seeking to regain.

The county has rolled out several projects as it seeks to  attain city status.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui assesses Lanet Airport construction project

Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication.

In classifying an area as a city, municipality or town, the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill of 2017 says the approval shall be subject to a raft of conditions that include a population of at least 250,000 people, and the ability to provide services that include water and sanitation, street lighting, proper drainage systems, an effective public transport system, health services, ambulance services, and public cemeteries.

A town aspiring city status must also have a fire fighting and disaster management system in place.

Nakuru is expected to have several recreational facilities, modern stadia, good road networks, solid waste management systems, and education institutions that include pre-care facilities, training institutions, community centres, conference facilities and air transport facilities.

A city must also have reliable sources of energy and electricity supply.

Tower One, Nakuru's tallest building, located along Moi Road.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Long journey

Since January 2019 , Governor Lee  Kinyanjui, has stepped up an ambitious push to ensure the town earns city status.

In March 2019,  Nakuru’s journey to city status received a major boost, after President Uhuru Kenyatta approved the Urban Areas and Cities(Amendment) Bill 2017.

The Bill effectively paved the way for creation of two more cities in Kenya to add to Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa which are already in place.

At the time Nakuru and Eldoret towns, which are considered the fourth and fifth largest urban centres in the country, were already angling themselves for elevation to city status.

A day after the president signed the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill into law, Governor  Kinyanjui also signed the municipal charter, and  constituted a municipal board, to spearhead Nakuru towards attaining  city status.

He then presented the  Municipal Charter document to the Nakuru County assembly for debate.

Since then, the Nakuru Municipality’s match to city status started in earnest.

And on November 6 , 2019 , the county assembly passed a procedural motion to pave the way for the elevation of Nakuru Municipality to city status.

Although the idea to elevate Nakuru town to city status was mooted by the national government, Governor Kinyanjui has done everything to ensure the dream is realised.

The step to approve Nakuru’s bid to attain city status was seen as Governor Kinyanjui’s first major score in his ambitious development agenda.


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