What you need to know:
- Governor Natembeya says Kitale has remained backward for lack of an ambitious development plan
- It is one of Kenya’s oldest towns, and with a growing population, has outlived its colonial plan
- The town is poorly planned because of limited space and encroachment on public land that has seen the official expansion plan envisioned by the colonial government thrown in disarray
Landlords in Kitale, Trans Nzoia, have been directed to give their premises a facelift, as Governor George Natembeya rolls out his facelift plan for the agricultural town as promised during the recent election campaigns.
Owners of dilapidated business premises must repair them or sell them to developers who can rehabilitate them, officials say.
Governor Natembeya said in Kitale that this is part of his government’s plan to give the town a new look in his facelift plan. It is in line with the county’s urban development plan that will also see owners of non-developed plots asked to develop them.
“Kitale has remained backward for lack of an ambitious development plan. We want to change this by ensuring we give it a new look that is in line with the demands of modern times,” he said.
The ongoing construction of the Kitale-Suam highway will also be critical in improving the look of the town, he said, with the county government planning to beautify roundabouts.
“We also want to ensure all the access roads in the town are fitted with cabro [blocks] to ensure the town gains the right status that can attract development. The town must have a better face than it is currently,” he said.
Kenya's oldest towns
Kitale lies on 18 square kilometres of land, half of which falls under the Kitale Golf Club. It is one of Kenya’s oldest towns. It has 200,000 people and has outlived its colonial plan, which was meant for about 45,000 people.
The town is poorly planned because of limited space and encroachment on public land that has seen the official town expansion plan envisioned by the colonial government thrown in disarray.
The previous county administration put in place the Kitale Municipal Board to oversee its services, including upgrades.
When Mr Natembeya campaigned for governor, he promised to give Kitale a facelift within his first 100 days in office.
He now says an efficient garbage management system will be set up and waste will be collected thrice a day. Residents will be required to dispose of their garbage only in waste bins that will be provided.
“Cleanliness is not just about collecting waste, but also a personal responsibility when it comes to garbage disposal. We will have new laws governing the disposal of garbage and penalties for defaulters,” he said.
To address water shortages in the town, the governor wants a pipe installed from the Kapolet water source in Cherang’any sub-county to act as a backup for the one managed by the Nzoia Water Services Company (Nzowasco).
“We also want to ensure that street lighting is efficient by ensuring we repair all defective ones and install new ones, even on the outskirts of the town, like Lions, where cases of insecurity are witnessed along the forest,” he said, adding that floodlights will be set up in crime-prone areas.
A former Rift Valley regional commissioner, Governor Natembeya put land grabbers on notice, saying all public land now in private hands will be recovered to serve the intended purpose of town expansion.
Former Governor Patrick Khaemba, who set up a modern business park and a bus terminus, failed to secure the Kitale medium security prison land for expansion as promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2017.
Also in the pipeline is the 14,500 square-metre Masinde Muliro ultramodern market, which will offer trading space to more than 3,000 small and medium enterprise traders who have been operating at the open-air market.
Mr Natembeya has set the ball rolling in implementing the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) that will enable him to roll out his six-point manifesto that seeks to turn around the agricultural county.
“The CIDP will enable us to secure a supplementary budget to be considered and passed by the county assembly, which is currently not operational since nominated MCAs are yet to be gazetted to pave the way for the leaders to be sworn in,” he said.