Inside Politics

Nakuru’s ascent to city status elicits hope, fear

Friday, December 3rd, 2021 06:52 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui and Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia during the conferment of Charter to Nakuru City at the rehabilitated Nyayo Gardens in Nakuru City, yesterday. PHOTO/PSCU

The long and intriguing journey towards elevation of Nakuru, the administrative capital of Rift Valley, to city status has finally come to an end.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday awarded a city charter to Nakuru, making it the fourth city in the country, joining the ranks of Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi.

The elevation has, however, elicited mixed emotions of hope and fear among various businesses and residents of the new city and its environs.

While some residents said they are now expecting to enjoy good road networks, enhanced solid waste management systems and better recreational facilities, some fear that the elevation to city status will occasion residents being burdened with high taxes, land rates and rents.

Nakuru County Business Association lauded the president’s move to confer Nakuru a city charter, saying elevation of the town to a city was a long-awaited move

However, the association’s chair Mwangi Muchemi noted that the comes with both positives and negatives in the business world. He observed that whereas more budgetary allocation will come Nakuru’s way, on the flip side rates are expected to go up and will in turn touch every business.

Increase of taxes

“We asked whether the increased cost of being a city is an increase of taxes and other related rates but we have been reliably informed that any increase in cost, especially rates must go through a budgetary process through the county assembly,” said Muchemi.

Being a city, he said major investments are expected to boom in the county and in turn result into major job creation for residents in terms of business opportunities.  

Muchemi at the same time called for the improvement of existing infrastructure by investing heavily in water so that the county has a continuous supply to the city.  

Echoing the sentiments, Nakuru Tourism Association chairman David Mwangi said the elevation to city status will unlock the region’s untapped economic fortunes.

He said being a transit town, they expect more visitors to come in with more bigger conferencing facilities as it attracts more funding from the World Bank.

“We expect a boom in the hospitality industry and all that comes with the elevation of the municipality, but there are challenges which will have to deal with as we move,” said Mwangi.

Land buying companies have, however, told residents to brace themselves for a slight increase in prices with the unveiling of Nakuru as a city. 

Wakirogo Company CEO Ben Kirogo said with a number of investors set to begin a mad rush to the city, land prices will shoot up in a few months. 
He said despite the county government insisting that no rates will be hiked before policies are formulated, the national government target revenue collection of a city will force their hand. 

“As Nakuru City County moves in to collect revenue, we expect residents to bear the brunt to satisfy city demands, and with many residents seeking to be land owners it will be a bit challenging,” said Kirogo.  He added that city status is synonymous with expansion, saying lands in a 10-kilometre proximity to the town will go higher and in the end push further, those seeking cheaper plots. 

“Plots around the town have shot up in the last three years running into millions of shillings; however, we need a meeting with the county administration on how we can implement the same,” he added. 

Sammy Ngigi, a landlord revealed that they are awaiting directions from the City County on any increment before informing tenants on the way forward. 

He said; “It is obvious that city comes with advantages and disadvantages, and one of them is that any increase in rates by the county will force us to increase rent prices,” 

Ngigi, however, noted that the county, before adding any rates, must be able to ensure all essential amenities are readily available so that residents can enjoy the fruits of being a city. 
Need better services

“City status is not just a name as much as it is good, we will have to deal with whatever hurdle that comes our way, we just need better services,” he said. 

Peter Tena, a resident said he expects to enjoy better recreational facilities, sufficient water, state-of-the-art stadia, good road networks, enhanced solid waste management systems among other services.  

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