For a long time, Eldoret town, popularly called “The City of Champions”, has been known as a one-highway town.
However, the town’s skyline is steadily transforming, with commercial and residential skyscrapers slowly replacing the colonial buildings that formed close ties between Uasin Gishu and the Boers of South Africa who occupied part of the town.
For instance, the celebrated Lincoln Hotel located along Oloo Street is no more. The colonial building has been pulled down and what is coming up is a modern state-of-the-art commercial building.
And last month, Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii said the Central Primary and Eldoret Central Secondary schools will both be relocated to pave the way for the expansion.
With the North Rift agricultural town eyeing city status, property developers are adopting modern architectural designs to meet the increasing demand for commercial and residential premises.
An acre of land close to the heart of the town costs more than Sh100 million as the agriculturally rich town attains modernisation.
The national and county governments are constructing more roads linking the town.
As per the 2019 census, Eldoret is the fifth most populated urban area in the country after Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Ruiru.
With a population of approximately 500,000 people, it is ranked as the fastest-growing town in the country.
As the planned elevation of Eldoret to city status gains momentum after the devolved unit put in place obligatory frameworks for the upgrade, tough conditions have been put in place for property owners.
Among the tough requirements aimed at hastening the process of promotion include an obligation for building owners to paint premises in a uniform colour not associated with any commercial brand.
Eldoret Municipality Manager Tito Koiyet said developers are required to observe by-laws on the design of buildings, while landlords are to guarantee proper disposal of garbage from their premises. Failure to do so, they can be fined or jailed for six months.
“All developers must adhere to by-laws related to the design of certain buildings as described in the by-laws. They must engage a registered architect for structural design,” the manager said in a notice.
Property owners are also required to develop ramps to ease movement for the disabled and install CCTV cameras. They should also ensure portions of their land are under tree cover.
According to Governor Bii, Eldoret town has met most requirements for city status.
“The promotion of the town to city category is long overdue. We have put in place all necessary conditions,” he said in a recent interview in his office.
Among the requirements to be met for the upgrade include accessibility to the international airport and proper infrastructural development.
“The town is strategically placed as a gateway to East and Central Africa and its uplifting to city status will offer a ready and steady market to our farmers,” explained Mr Bii.
But the town is still faced with challenges. They include wanting transport and sewage systems.
“The sewerage system is still a big challenge. There is still a discharge of raw wastes to River Sosiani that cuts across the town. Some of the residential areas, especially informal ones, are not connected to the sewage system,” said Mr David Maina, an environmental expert and planner.
Pioneer Estate, an ancient locality that was once occupied by the Boer settlers rather than Afrikaners who settled in Uasin Gishu and owned huge tracts of land for agricultural purposes, is among estates that are experiencing rapid transformation.