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Eldoret steps up the pace in fourth Kenyan city race

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A section of Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu County on November 17, 2021. The town is in the process of acquiring a city status. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Summary

  • It is a pace that its administrators and officials are hoping will propel it to attain the bragging rights of becoming the country’s fourth city ahead of Nakuru.
  • Uasin Gishu County Executive Committee (CEC)Lands and Planning Nelson Maritim said that the devolved unit was working on an Integrated Development plan as per the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011.
  • Eldoret is surrounded by prime agricultural lands with large-scale grain, dairy, and horticultural farming.

Eldoret town, which prides itself as the home of champions owing to its high concentration of world-beating athletes, is undergoing a massive face-lift in a race to elevate its status from a town to a city.

From emerging skyscrapers to improved road network, the municipality has recorded general infrastructure and service improvements, so much so that it was recently voted among the best investment destinations.

It is a pace that its administrators and officials are hoping will propel it to attain the bragging rights of becoming the country’s fourth city ahead of Nakuru that is also implementing several projects to enable it cross the threshold.

Uasin Gishu County Executive Committee (CEC)Lands and Planning Nelson Maritim said that the devolved unit was working on an Integrated Development plan as per the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 to enable them apply for the city status.

According to the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011, to qualify as a city, an urban area must have a population of at least 250,000 based on the last census.

As per the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census, Eldoret is the fifth most populated urban area in the country after Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Ruiru with 475,716 residents.

This county has been upgrading the roads within the town to meet the requisite conditions set for it to attain city status.

The County Assembly had approved the Municipality and Eldoret is currently being managed by a Municipal board and a manager.

When completed, the road will give the town a different face with anticipation of traffic jams being reduced.

Upon completion, the bypass project is expected to open up the North Rift for more business opportunities and solidify Eldoret Town as the capital investment hub in the region.

The town, which is key to trade—especially for trucks ferrying goods—in western Kenya and neighbouring Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, connects with the Trans-African highway that passes through the CBD.

Eldoret is a key player in the growth of the economy and is centrally placed as a town that has direct flights to all the cities in the country and currently international cargo lands in Eldoret before transportation via road to the rest of the country.

New ideals of urban life are changing as environmental and economic pressures on cities grow and are currently undergoing a face-lift that will see to it that people adapt to the pressures of growth in the town.

Eldoret is surrounded by prime agricultural lands with large-scale grain, dairy, and horticultural farming.

The town hosts a number of government agencies like the Energy Regulatory Authority (Epra), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA), Auditor General among others.

The town is famously referred to as ‘The City of Champions’ because most of the elite athletes from the North Rift region reside there.

The CEC also said that the town had the required population and they are working on infrastructure and social amenities requirements as stated in the Act.

“We are also rehabilitating our dilapidated houses. We are also constructing roads to the estates within the town with the help of the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP),” he said.

Governor Jackson Mandago’s administration is going on with town beautification, increased water supply, security with both street and floodlights being installed across the town, waste management and  improvement of walkways.

With local leaders pushing for the town to be elevated into a city status, elaborate plans have been put in place to ensure the amenities are improved.

In September 2017, the Cabinet approved the elevation of two more towns to cities under the Urban and Cities Act which includes Nakuru and Eldoret.

According to Municipal Manager Mr Tito Koiyet, Municipality of Eldoret is ripe for the status and has met most of the requirements for consideration of award and hence the need to fast track the few unmet conditions.

“Currently, the Municipality of Eldoret has met almost all the conditions required and this team is mandated to deliver a report for onward forwarding to the executive and the assembly so that we can get the award soon. City status comes with great advantages including increased funding from the Government hence the need to work on status immediately. With the guide of the Urban and Cities amendment act, and the law we shall get the city status soon,” he elucidated.

Mr Tito Koiyet said that Eldoret is well placed and once it attains the city status, it will attract more investors, conference facilities, growing tourism sector, which also creates a demand for road linkages, expanding airlines to international spaces, especially Europe.

On ensuring that the town has a good drainage system, Environment Executive Mary Njogu said the county is currently constructing stormwater drainages that will help to manage water flows by integrating mechanical solutions with natural features, which will divert the stormwater from major drainages along Uganda Road and reduce flooding during heavy rains.

Similarly, the devolved unit has embarked to connect sprawling estates of Langas among others to its main Kipkenyo sewerage plant, said Ms Njogu.

“We do not have any crisis. In fact, we have not utilised and currently, we are trying to do connections so that the existing one can be utilised fully. We are targeting the upcoming estates like Langas, Kipkorgot and other areas,” said Ms Njogu adding that the county has two sewer systems.

For the residents in Kimumu and its environs, the devolved unit is planning to build a sewerage system because the slope does not favour them in using the existing ones.

“We are trying to pursue one for Kimumu and its environs because the gradient cannot allow them to use the current ones. Residents, there are currently using pit-latrines, exhausters and bio-digester,” she told the Business Daily.

Recently Governor Mandago admitted that with the growing population of the town, sewage was becoming a headache.

“The town is growing tremendously…population growth is also being witnessed. Sewerage is a big challenge and we are focusing on fixing the menace” he said.

“We’re looking forward in the future to improve the transport system as we seek the elevation of Eldoret town into a city,” added the governor.

He further expressed the need to work together with stakeholders to make Eldoret the best.

“Garbage collection is still a big challenge. Dumping waste in undesignated areas, how do we get people to change their attitude, being difficult to change people through enforcement. We need to sensitise locals. we really need to find a lasting solution,” he said.

With the aim of fast-tracking the elevation process, rehabilitating parks within is becoming one of the priorities aimed at promoting tourism activities in the soon-to-be city.

The Mandago administration has rehabilitated Nandi Park, a once dilapidated scene, into what has turned out to be the town's most ideal venue to relax and contemplate.

As a result of the positive outcome of the park, it has attracted a lot of people who relax at the park due to its serenity, creating more need to come up with another park as the existing (Nandi Park) is becoming congested.

With the huge daily changes experienced from technology, economy and environment due to climate change and urban population growth, the county government has devoted its effort and resources to devising a strategy to achieve “smart” urban growth.

ICT Executive Dr Emily Kogos said that there is a need to have an integration of concepts from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to provide real-time data collected from people, assets in the city, traffic, power, Water supply systems, waste management, crime detection, schools, hospitals and other facilities.

“With a click of a button, we will be able to access data from the systems installed. This will enable the government to use the data gathered to manage assets and resources efficiently. With a click of a button we can be able to access data instantly” said Dr Kogos.

Roads Executive Gideon Birir said the smart city technology will allow leaders to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is growing.

“ICT has a major role of enhancing quality performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption as well as ensuring increased contact between citizens and government. The Country is heading to full digital access as witnessed on the Huduma Number registration that was recently carried out,” said Mr Birir.

Uasin Gishu has been collecting over Sh900 million in revenue.

Nakuru Municipality will now be the fourth city in Kenya after the Senate voted to support its elevation recently and now awaiting President Uhuru Kenyatta to award it a charter.

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