Push to elevate Eldoret to city gains momentum as team starts collecting views

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The push to elevate Eldoret to a city has gained momentum after an ad hoc committee formed to determine whether the Uasin Gishu County government has put in place obligatory frameworks for the upgrade began collecting views from the public.

The committee was formed to establish whether the municipality meets the criteria for classification as the fifth city in Kenya after Nakuru.

The team started interacting with the public and stakeholders from October 24, a process that will go on until November 9.

The committee, chaired by Willy Kenei (Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry), will make recommendations after hearing from the public.

The other members of the committee are Prof Leonard Mulongo (Kenya Institute of Planners), Florence Chepchumba Nyole (Architectural Association of Kenya), Grace Cheptui Chelagat (Law Society of Kenya), Stephen Kipleting (Institute of Certified Public Accountants), Geoffrey Kiprotich Koros (Kenya Institute of Surveyors) and Geoffrey Kirui (Association of Urban Areas and Cities).

A building on Uganda highway in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on July 26, 2022
A building on Uganda highway in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on July 26, 2022. The town is in the process of being elevated to a city status.
Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Considerations for city status

Among the requirements to be met for city status are accessibility to an international airport, proper infrastructure development, effective waste management system, sufficient learning facilities (public and private universities), provision of quality health services, standardisation of the hospitality and hotel industry and population.

The team held talks with stakeholders in the education sector and the transport division on the process last week.

With about 500,000 people, Eldoret is ranked as the fastest-growing town in Kenya and is a link to East and Central African countries.

But it is emerging that the town faces some challenges that might slow down its uplifting to a city.

Considered the industrial hub of the of the North Rift region, the country’s food basket, Eldoret has an inadequate transport and sewage system

“The sewerage system is still a big challenge. There is still discharge of raw waste into the River Sosiani that cuts across the town,” said David Maina, an environmental expert and planner. 

“Some of the residential areas, especially informal ones, are not connected to the sewage system. These are some of the issues that need to be fixed before the town attains city status.”

Previous county administrations, including that of former governor now Jackson Mandago, pledged to fix the problem but that did not happen.

The challenge

The current administration of Governor Jonathan Bii is struggling with garbage collection though a new dumpsite opened in the Kipkenyo area.

“The central business district (CBD) still is littered with garbage. There is a lot to be done in weeding out hawkers and clearing street urchins, an issue the current administration needs to prioritise,” said entrepreneur Mary Kemboi.

Residents told Nation.Africa that the town lacks ample recreational facilities, including public parks.

“The recreational facilities need to be rehabilitated and upgraded to promote the tourism sector and enable the devolved unit to generate additional revenue as it remodels to city status,” said Wilson Kosgei, an investor in the hotel and hospitality industry.

However, some of the dilapidated facilities, including the Nandi park, have been transformed into model recreational facilities for the public.

Other work that needs to be done by the county government in collaboration with other stakeholders includes painting buildings for aesthetic appeal, promoting heritage, reforestation and providing more space for expansion.

Investors in real estate want the devolved unit to enter public-private partnerships to offer affordable housing.

Governor Bii says Eldoret has what it takes to be Kenya’s fifth largest city.

“We are working with other stakeholders, including the national government and the private sector, to develop housing plans to address the problem of informal settlements,” Mr Bii said.

What the law says

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.

Per the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census, Eldoret is the fifth most populated urban area in Kenya after Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Ruiru.

Eldoret hosts several government agencies, including the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra), Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) and Auditor-General.

The municipality has been racing against time to fix street lights, expand the sewerage system and set up a garbage dumpsite to meet the needs of the growing population.

It plans to expand and upgrade the streets and roads to decongest the town and increase water supply to cope with the fest-growing population.

Senate approval

A Senate committee approved the elevation of Nakuru to a city in 2017. Eldoret will join Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru if it meets the necessary conditions for a city.

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