The planned elevation of Nakuru Town to city status has entered the home stretch after Senate Committee on Devolution declared that the county had put in place necessary infrastructure for the upgrade.
The Committee Chairman, Senator John Kinyua of Laikipia said his team was satisfied that the cosmopolitan municipality has met the minimum criteria for elevation to city status as provided for in section five of the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 and Amendment Act of 2019.
The Senate’s endorsement comes as a big relief to Governor Lee Kinyanjui as some of the local politicians led by Senator Susan Kihika, Nakuru Town East MP, David Gikaria and Bahati law maker, Kimani Ngunjiri had wanted the elevation deferred for another ten years.
Other entities that were opposed to the city status include Nakuru Business Association, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Matatu Owners Association and Nakuru Informal Traders.
Kinyua who led members of his committee on an inspection tour of various infrastructural facilities within the county including the upcoming Central Business District Fire Station, Giotto waste disposal site and Nakuru Teaching and Referral hospital noted city status will lead to economic growth through establishment of new business and increased revenue streams.
Senator Kinyua noted that the elevation would also translate into effective planning of transport systems, education and waste management and result in increased revenue collection.
The city will also be able to access loans, donations and grants.
President Kenyatta has in the past assured Governor Kinyanjui that he will support the elevation of Nakuru into city status once the legal procedures have been passed.
Members of the Committee on Devolution who accompanied Kinyua, included senators, Boniface Mutinda and Rose Ogendo.
In September 2017, a Cabinet sitting approved the elevation of Nakuru and Eldoret municipalities to cities, bringing the number of Cities in Kenya to five.
Some of the infrastructural projects that the County government has been undertaking include expanding the sewerage system which was installed in the 1960’s when the town population was barely 10,000 people, improving the drainage system and procuring a new dumping site.
Governor Kinyanjui revealed that his administration has awarded a Sh.4.2 billion sanitization project to expand the sewerage system.
“Development is a deliberate effort by the people to improve an area and we are getting there, even Nairobi and Mombasa and Kisumu cities have challenges and the respective county governments are working around them,” said the governor.
Other projects that the county has taken up in preparation for the new status is the construction of an international airport at Lanet and the refurbishment of Afraha Stadium into an international sports complex.
Early last year the County administration embarked on the rehabilitation of the 30-acre dumpsite and an earth embankment and buffer greenery foliage was put up to prevent spillage of garbage into the Nakuru-Kabarak road during the rainy seasons.
The Environment department has also demarcated the dumpsite into portions where recyclable and bio-degradable garbage is discarded separately.
Senator Kinyua said the move besides conserving the environment will offer youth employment opportunities in recycling solid waste.
Though he lauded the county for upgrading the Teaching and Referral Hospital, the Committee Chair called for employment of more health workers at the facility to cope with increased number of patients seeking specialised services.
The Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for Health, Dr. Zachary Kariuki said a further Sh.600 million will be allocated in the next financial year to carry out more upgrades and procure equipment for the hospital.
By Jane Ngugi/David Mururia