Nakuru’s journey to a city status has received a major boost after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill 2017.
The new law now paves way for creation of two more cities in Kenya besides the capital Nairobi.
Already, Nakuru and Eldoret towns, which are considered the third and fourth largest urban centres in the country, have been earmarked for elevation to city status.
A day after the President signed the law, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui also signed the Municipal Charter that will enable Nakuru attain city status.
While signing the charter at his offices in Milimani estate on Wednesday evening, Governor Kinyanjui revealed that the journey to city status is almost complete and plans are in top gear.
The Nation has learnt that the county administration has also roped in the county assembly to help prepare the town for its new status.
“We will now present the Municipal Charter document to the Nakuru County Assembly where it will be debated on before it is taken to the Senate for further approval,” revealed Governor Kinyanjui.
The law signed by the President gave county governments the authority to review the criteria provided for classifying an area as a city, municipality, town or market centre.
Under the new law, the number of inhabitants required for a city has been reduced by half to 250,000 people.
Nakuru’s population stood at about 800,000 according to the 2009 census.
Besides population size, for an urban area to be classified as a city, it should demonstrate capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations and have key infrastructures.
The town must also have an integrated urban area or city development plan.
Already, Mr Kinyanjui has stepped up an ambitious push to ensure Nakuru town matches city status.
The county has rolled out several projects with a team in place to ensure the town gets the status by latest end of this year.
To upgrade infrastructure in the town, the county government jointly with the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) in January 2018 embarked on a Sh1.9 billion road modernisation project expected to link several residential and commercial centres in the town.
About 22 kilometres of roads will be done by the end of the project which is being undertaken by Chinese firm, Weihai International Economic and Technical (Witec) Construction Company.
The roads undergoing an upgrade include those serving Menengai and the posh Milimani estate, the ones accessing Nakuru GK Prison, London estate and part of the western side of the town.
They also link Nakuru’s Industrial Area, Kaptembwa, Bondeni, Naka, Free Area and Mwariki estates in the eastern part of the town.
Governor Kinyanjui says the project is intended at increasing road network and mobility and reducing congestion in the town.
“My administration is leaving nothing to chance to ensure Nakuru gets the city status. We are also in the process of beautifying the town. All public parks, including Nyayo Gardens, will undergo rehabilitation,” revealed Governor Kinyanjui.
In the current financial year, the county has allocated about Sh20 million for beautification and greening of the legendary Nyayo Gardens in the heart of Nakuru town.
The county administration has also directed owners of buildings in the town to repaint them and ensure they are well maintained as part of the ongoing beautification project.
Interchanges that have been constructed along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway are also expected to ease traffic flow to and from Nakuru and spruce up the face of the town when it becomes a city.
The interchanges at the Nyahururu and Njoro turnoffs are already complete.
The interchanges are expected give residents, businesspeople and travellers a sigh of relief from years of perennial traffic gridlocks along the busy highway.