Mixed reactions have greeted President Uhuru Kenyatta’s award of a city charter to Nakuru on Wednesday, making it the fourth city in the country.
Ruth Kariuki, a Manager at Vic Mark Hotel located at the town’s Central Business District said elevation of Nakuru would help rescue the ailing hospitality industry.
“We have suffered as a result of Covid-19 outbreak. The expected elevation of the town is an opportunity for economic recovery. Hotels will get more bookings and also generate revenue from other activities,” said Ms Kariuki.
She cited additional funding for urban development around the municipality, adding that it would improve locals’ living standards.
“The additional funds will be used to better roads, hospitals, water provision and other amenities. This will also improve the business environment,” she noted.
Ms Kariuki petitioned Governor Lee Kinyanjui to ensure that the elevation to city status will not translate into residents being burdened with high taxes, land rates and rents. The County administration, she indicated, should make its decisions based on the needs of the residents and ensure regular public participation.
Nakuru City now joins Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi as cities.
Wallace Kamau, a Boda boda Operator stated that residents of Nakuru are now expecting to enjoy better recreational facilities, sufficient water, state of the art stadia, good road networks, enhanced solid waste management systems among other services.
Mr Kamau who plies his trade at Kingdom Seekers bus terminus said increased investments in the city would improve cash flows and spur economic growth.
He added: “The County administration should focus its efforts on improving security and sanitation through installation of high mast flood lights and sanitation facilities at market places and bus termini. This will be a step in the right direction in making the newly elevated city a 24-hour economy.”
The Senate approved Nakuru Municipality’s application for elevation to city status this year.
Nakuru town’s population stands at 367,183, according to the Senate committee that scrutinized the city status application, surpassing the required population threshold of 250,000 people as per the criteria set in the law.
The Senate departmental team also found that the local revenue generated in the past three financial years demonstrated the town’s potential to sustain its operations.
Peter Kamau, a resident of Bondeni Estate called on Governor Kinyanjui to ensure that the town undergoes an overhaul and be re-planned, to resolve the perennial problem of congestion especially in the central business district and main streets.
While calling on authorities to revamp and improve solid waste management systems, Mr Kamau expressed optimism that the lakeside town’s elevation to city status will unlock the region’s untapped economic fortunes.
“This city needs extensive systems for housing, transport, water and sanitation, street lighting, proper drainage systems, transport, health services, land use, and communication,” said Mr Kamau.
Kenya Association of Manufacturers South Rift Chairperson Peris Mbuthia said city status would create a bigger market for goods and services. She urged the national and county governments to put in place measures to ensure the cost of doing business in Nakuru does not go up with the town’s new status.
Central Rift Matatu Owners Association Chairperson Stephen Muli is hopeful that the town’s elevation will come with interventions to address traffic snarl ups, which he said has plagued the town.
“We are happy with the construction of the Sh160 billion dual carriageway to connect Nakuru and Nairobi. The county government should ensure free flow of traffic. We also need parking slots in the CBD,” said Muli.
By Anne Mwale and Hellen Kivaya