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Economy

Bill seeks to cut population size for city status

An aerial view of a section of Nakuru town. It is one of Kenya’s biggest urban centres. FILE PHOTO | NMG
An aerial view of a section of Nakuru town. It is one of Kenya’s biggest urban centres. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya will cut population size required for a town to be declared a city from half a million to 250,000 residents if proposed changes to urban law that seek to create more cities is adopted.

The proposal contained in the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill, 2017, follows Cabinet approval in September to provide for five cities, up from the current three.

Though the Cabinet did not specify the two towns set for elevation to cities, Kenya’s largest urban centres behind Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu cities are Nakuru and Eldoret in that order.

Besides the city status criteria, the bill also seeks to cut the required population size for a municipality to 50,000 from 250,000 residents.

The proposed law provides for creation of 64 municipalities, 66 townships and 80 market centres.

Market centres are required to have a population of at least 2,000 people.

Currently, only two urban centres are classified as municipalities while 130 have township status.

This means the number of townships will be cut by half if Parliament adopts the bill.

The bill states that the changes will help improve county government operations.

“The proposed amendments shall enable county governments to also efficiently and effectively deliver services in the areas designated as urban areas and cities,” read the bill.

Besides population size, an urban area to be classified as a city should demonstrate capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations and have key infrastructure.

Nairobi collected Sh11.7 billion in revenues in the 2015/16 financial year, followed by Mombasa (Sh2.9 billion), Kiambu (Sh2.5 billion) while Nakuru came in fourth at Sh2.3 billion and Sh1.8 billion for Narok.

Machakos was sixth having collected Sh1.1 billion, according to Controller of Budget records.

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