The Kiambu County government will use part of a Sh1.89 billion grant from the World Bank’s Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP) to beautify Thika town.
Governor Ferdinand Waititu said Sh50 million will go towards revamping the industrial town, which has lost its lustre over the years.
The town is grappling with open manholes, unending traffic jams, a number of old and dilapidated buildings in the central business district and an expanding slum, among other challenges.
Governor Waititu has announced plans to issue Kiandutu slum dwellers with title deeds and promised those who miss out that they will be settled on land that Del Monte fruit farm is expected to surrender upon expiry of its lease.
On Monday, Mr Waititu announced plans to relocate the Thika GK Prison, saying the move will free up land for other use as part of efforts to restore Thika’s lost glory.
“We want Thika to shine more than Nairobi city. Tendering for the beautification project is underway. We will launch it after 14 days,” he said.
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill, 2017 into law, meaning an urban area with a population of 250,000 people can now be upgraded into city status. Under the same law, an area with at least 50,000 people qualifies to be a municipality.
Kiambu County Urban Planning and Development Chief Executive James Maina said Thika was last year gazetted as a municipality.
“We have an estimated population of 200,000 people. Soon, Thika will qualify to be a city,” he said.
Mr Maina added that a strategic plan is being drafted to address challenges in Thika, Ruiru, Karuri, Kabete, Kikuyu and Limuru municipalities.
WORLD BANK PROJECTS
Other projects in the World Bank’s Sh1.89B kitty include a street lighting programme in Juja town, the upgrading of Kiambu bypass and bus park, construction of a fire station and related amenities, tarmacking of Kanjiku-Gituamba-Muthurwa road in Karuri municipality among others.
Kiambu County qualified for the funds after meeting the conditions set by the World Bank, among them the establishment of municipal boards to help in the running of the 59 targeted towns within 45 counties.
The World Bank notes that although Kenya has recorded significant economic growth over the last few years, its infrastructural potential remains remarkably low, a situation that has been brought about by the national and county governments’ poor management and limited investments in urban development.