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Thika begins race to attain city status

As Thika town gears towards being elevated into a smart city, various stakeholders have called for increased sensitisation to prepare residents psychologically on the expectations of a smart city.

Outgoing Thika West Deputy County Commissioner Mbogo Mathioya said while the proposal meant well to the residents, massive public participation was important in order for the public to catch up with new developments.

Addressing stakeholders during his farewell party, Mbogo, who has since been promoted to a County Commissioner told residents to embrace the idea saying they stood to gain should the town be elevated into a city.

He said while the establishment of the city will attract development and massive investment, there also will be an influx of strange characters, hiking of taxes and major movements of people from their normal activities.

While noting that residents should know the gains and shortcomings of becoming a city, he asked leaders to consult widely with all stakeholders when making decisions.

This comes as a section of residents, during a recent public participation forum, opposed plans for the elevation to smart city status arguing that they feared being forced to relocate to pave way for massive development.

“While the move is necessary, residents need to be sensitised on what they will gain and lose out on. Stakeholders like bodabodas, hawkers, need to understand that their mode of operations will change. Residents too will have to understand that there will be massive employment opportunities and increased investment. People will have to move to pave the way for development,” said Mbogo.

Kamenu Ward MCA Peter Mburu said that prior concrete arrangements have to be made first before jumping into the proposal which he said could see many people caught off-guard.

The MCA said the proposal might fail terribly if it is forced on residents.

He called on the Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi to work with the county assembly saying leaders cannot deliver to its residents while working in isolation.

“You see what happened during a public participation forum a month ago where residents were up in arms, opposing the plans. This was due to poor sensitisation. They need to be brought on board and consulted widely because they are the biggest stakeholders. Otherwise the proposal might fail,” Mburu said.

Wamatangi has since maintained that Thika town was headed for elevation, saying some funds to kick-start the process have already been set aside.

He cited Sh5.8 billion for water distribution that he said was in the county’s accounts, adding that the county needs Sh15 billion to have the town elevated to a city.

By Muoki Charles

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