Elwak, the second most populous town in Mandera County, is set to become a municipality after members of the county assembly voted to elevate its status.
The MCAs voted unanimously and approved the conferment of the status of a municipality to the town bordering Somalia.
“Elwak is faced with perennial challenges ranging from lack of clean water to flooding during rain seasons but once it becomes a municipality all these problems will be solved,” said Mr Abdinur Teno who is the ward representative for Elwak South.
A report elevating the town to a municipality was tabled at the assembly by Ms Halima Billow, who is the county’s chairperson for Lands, Housing and Physical Planning committee.
She said the town had qualified to be a municipality adding that public participation carried out showed residents approved the move.
“Residents of Elwak welcomed this initiative and are eagerly awaiting a decision by this house. It will be justice to them if we approve the report and make Elwak a municipality,” she said.
The area MCA claimed the border town has been sitting on natural resources that needed to be utilised.
“There is gypsum and limestone that industries can be set up creating jobs for hundreds of locals once the town becomes a municipality,” he said.
He argued that municipality status will boost security situation in the town.
“Municipality comes with a lot of goodies and that is what is going to give live to many residents of Elwak,” he said.
He said the town will now attract investors adding that it will be able to get some form of autonomy in managing of its affairs.
Excited residents of Elwak applauded the new development terming it God send for they have prayed for the same status for long.
“We have always wanted to manage our affairs on our on by engaging relevant agencies and that moment has come,” said Mr Ali Aliow, a local.
Ms Haliam Tukow said Elwak becoming a municipality will provide better services to the local business community.
“We shall have better planning and proper market for all those in business. Value for money especially taxes collected will now be seen,” she argued.
Elwak now becomes the second municipality in the county after Mandera town was awarded same status last year.
On March 12, 2019 President Uhuru Kenyatta signed The Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill 2017 giving formation of cities, municipalities and towns.
The law enables county governments to review the criteria provided for classifying an area as a city, municipality, town or market centre.
The law also allows a county to declare an urban area a municipality if it has a resident population of at least 50,000 residents.
An area qualifies as a town if it has at least 10,000 residents. A market centre requires 2,000 residents.
Mr Alinoor Derrow, who is the MCA for Wargadud, said elevating Elwak to a municipality will bring services close to the people.
“The town being a municipality will be able to run its affairs independently since it will have a committee that will ensure services are provided,” he said.
A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate.
It has been distinguished from the county and it encompasses rural territory or numerous small communities such as towns, villages and hamlets.