The passing of a procedural motion to pave way for the elevation of Nakuru Municipality to city status might be Governor Lee Kinyanjui’s first major score in his ambitious development agenda.
His other flagship project - the revival of pyrethrum production is yet to gather full steam while his other pet project, the construction of an international airstrip at Lanet, is yet to take off.
Although the idea to elevate Nakuru town to city status was mooted by the national government, Governor Kinyanjui has done everything to ensure the dream is realised.
The successful passing of the motion by the 78- member assembly on November 6 is a sign of a new working relationship between the assembly and the executive.
“The passing of the report on the application for the elevation of Nakuru town to city status is just the first in our several development plans to ensure Governor Kinyanjui delivers his promises to Nakuru County residents,” said nominated MCA Elizabeth Gichuki.
The endorsement of the report is a big win for Mr Kinyanjui who has been pushing for the elevation of the municipality.
However, it has not been a walk in the park as Governor Kinyanjui had to brave sharp criticisms and opposition from local politicians led by Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika and MPs David Gikaria (Nakuru East) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati).
The trio has proposed the deferment of the elevation of Nakuru Town to city status for 10 years.
Ms Kihika, who is eying the Nakuru governor seat, has been poking holes on the leadership of Mr Kinyanjui since 2017 while Mr Ngunjiri fell out with the governor.
Mr Ngunjiri is the Deputy President William Ruto pointman in Nakuru while Mr Kinyanjui is a close ally of President Uhuru Kenyatta and has remained noncommittal in the 2022 succession politics.
With the elevation of the municipality to city status, the Central Business District will have a facelift. The demolition of makeshift stalls at the CBD in Nakuru East will render hundreds of small scale trader jobless.
However, the devolved unit has moved to allay fears of job losses to the small scale traders and has acquired a three-acre plot at the Kenya Railways where a modern bus park will be constructed.
“We are alive to the fact that these small scale traders have families, we shall construct a modern matatu terminus where quite a number will be relocated,” said Governor Kinyanjui.
He said his government will construct markets in the surrounding areas such as Free Area, London, and Nakuru West to accommodate more traders.
Others opposed to the elevation of the town include Nakuru Business Association, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Matatu Owners Association and Nakuru Informal Traders.
Mr Kinyanjui termed the passage of the motion “a big victory” and a sign of a new pact with the assembly to deliver development projects to the residents.
“The elevation of Nakuru Town to city status is a big win to the county,” said Governor Kinyanjui.
He said he is ready to work with his critics saying: “I urge politicians across the political divide to embrace the politics of development instead of politics of hatred and backstabbing which will only derail development in Nakuru County.”
He commended the assembly for passing the motion saying “when the history of the second assembly of Nakuru will be written they will be part of that historic moment.”
As the municipality prepares to take its new status, Governor Lee Kinyanjui administration has its work cut out.
“He must ensure the irritating traffic jams at the CBD and bus stops are relocated. The permanently clogged drainages and sewers must be unblocked,” said a trader on Nakuru Town’s Kenyatta Avenue.
The perennial water shortage and improved revenue collection targets which the county has struggled to achieve are some of the urgent measures the devolved unit will have to tackle as it strives to deliver services to the more than 400,000 residents of the town and its environs.
In the financial year 2016/2017 the devolved unit collected Sh1.5 billion. In 2018/2019 financial year, revenue increased to Sh1.6 billion and so far it has collected 1.8billion.
“With use of technology and sealing of loopholes, we shall achieve our targets,” said Governor Kinyanjui.
The passing of the procedural motion now means Governor Kinyanjui will forward the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta who will then forward it to the Senate for debate. Once it gets the Senate’s nod, it will be returned to the President for accent before it becomes law.