Focus on Nakuru as Uhuru confers town city status
Hilary Mageka @hillarymageka
Residents of Nakuru town and its environs will have to contend with heavy taxation and a dramatic increase in the cost of living after the town acquired the city status.
Apart from increase of land rates, some residents will be displaced as the Nakuru county government moves to compulsorily acquire adequate land for its expansion.
Land has been a big dilemma for Nakuru municipality due to its urban sprawl and increase in population which has brought about a strain in physical infrastructure and social amenities.
Senators by a majority vote on Thursday agreed with the report of the House Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations that recommended that Nakuru Municipality be conferred with city status.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is tomorrow expected to issue a charter to Nakuru Municipality after it was conferred City status by the Senate.
If Nakuru gets city status, it becomes our fourth city in the country joining the leagues of Mombasa, Kisumu and the country’s capital Nairobi.
Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang, who chairs the Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, said that considered the matter has recommended that to cure the urban sprawl, a review of the boundaries of Nakuru Municipality, as stipulated in the Urban Areas and Cities Act, which provides the procedure for delineation of boundaries is done.
“We recommend that in dealing with encroachment of land, the law and good practices ought to be enforced and observed in dealing with businesses that have encroached on public land. This will help open public spaces including drainages,” Senator Kajwang’ said.
“We also recommend that, to promote community ownership of public projects, transparency, accountability and public awareness, the Municipal Board should implement Section 22 of the Urban Areas and Cities Act by forming institutionalised citizen fora,” he added.
The Committee has also recommended that the municipality should constitute and equip a modern planning and development control unit, in line with the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011, for sustainable development of the Municipality.
Nevertheless, Kajwang congratulated Nakuru County Government for their long wait to be a city.
The next step is for Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to forward the resolution of the House to the President for grant of Charter unlike before, where the Speakers of the bi-cameral Parliament accompanied by their clerks to go State House for assent of bills.
“As the mover of the motion, I hope to get a place in Nakuru Hall of Fame!” he added.
In the circumstance, Senator Kajwang’ pronounced that a resolution to confer city status to any municipality or town is the only responsibility where the Senate’s decision is not subjected to the National Assembly.
While moving the motion, Kajwang said his team considered provisions of the law, especially Article 184 and Sections 3, 5, 8 and 60 of the Urban Areas and Cities Act No 13 of 2011.
The Committee observed Nakuru Municipality population of 367,183 surpasses the required threshold of 250,000 as per the criteria set in the Urban Areas and Cities Act.
Besides, the local revenue generated in the past three financial years 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 demonstrated the capacity and potential of Nakuru in revenue generation and collection could sustain its operations as per the criteria set in the relevant statute.
“I am glad that Nakuru county recently established a revenue authority to ensure that the own source revenue collection is rationalised and optimised,” he told senators, adding that the rationale for conferring city status should be beneficial to the residents of Nakuru by ensuring their economic and social wellbeing is taken care of.
Though there was concern that the new status would drive up the cost of living and that rates would go up and perhaps some land would be acquired to ensure that the new city gets adequate land for its expansion.