Senators approve Eldoret's bid for city status

A street in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Eldoret Municipality's bid to become Kenya's fifth city has moved closer after a Senate committee gave the green light for the elevation.

The development comes after the Senate Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations gave the push a clean bill of health.

In a report tabled in the Senate on Wednesday, the committee chaired by Wajir Senator Mohamed Abass said the town meets the criteria set out in Section 5 of the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011.

The report said Eldoret exceeded the requirement of a population of at least 250,000 for an urban area to be classified as a city.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Population and Housing Census of 2019, the population of Eldoret is estimated at 475,716, comprising 237,223 males and 238,477 females.

According to Section 5 of the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Act, 2019 on the criteria for classifying an area as a city, an urban area may be classified as a city if it has a population of at least 500,000 according to the final published results of the last population census preceding the application for the grant of city status.

Other criteria include having an integrated urban area or urban development plan, a demonstrated capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations, a good system and record of prudent management, and the capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver essential services to its residents as provided for in the First Schedule of the Constitution.

In addition to having institutionalised the active participation of its residents in the management of its affairs, the community has infrastructure facilities, including but not limited to roads, street lighting, markets and fire stations, and adequate capacity for disaster management; and has a functional and effective waste management capacity.

The report states that the municipality has infrastructure facilities, including roads, street lighting, markets, airports, airstrips and fire stations, and has adequate disaster management capacity.

However, the Committee noted that although the facilities are fully functional, some improvements are needed to enhance their functionality, such as the extension of the runway and the procurement of modern fire-fighting equipment.

Furthermore, the council has the capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations, as its revenue potential is Sh2.5 billion, with the highest actual collection of Sh0.99 billion in the last financial year.

The council also has the capacity to generate its own revenue from markets, individual business permits, land rates, street parking and bus parks.

The committee added that the council has adhered to best management practices such as planning, organising, directing and controlling resources to achieve service delivery to its residents.

"Based on the above findings and observations, the Standing Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations recommends that the Eldoret Town Council be granted city status having met the requirements set out in Section 5 and the First Schedule of the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011," reads part of the report.

The report will now be debated by senators and, if approved, forwarded to President William Ruto to grant the town a city charter.

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi referred the Uasin Gishu County Assembly resolution to the Senate committee in June this year.

The move came after the county assembly in May adopted the report of an ad hoc committee on granting Eldoret town status.

The committee had recommended in its report last month that Eldoret Municipality be upgraded to town status as it had met all the legal requirements for the status, including population and infrastructure.

According to the 2019 census, Eldoret is the country's fifth most populous urban area after Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Ruiru, and the fastest growing city in the country at 5.2 per cent, above the national average of 3.7 per cent.

Last year, former President Uhuru Kenyatta granted Nakuru city status, making it the fourth city in the country after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.