In September 2017, Cabinet approved the elevation of two more towns to cities under the Urban Areas and Cities Act.
For Eldoret town, this was an opportunity to grab with both hands. Uasin Gishu County, whose headquarters is in the town, immediately set itself ambitious targets as it seeks to beat Nakuru and Nyeri towns which are also vying for city status.
Will the town better known as the ‘City of Champions’ thanks to its record-breaking athletes outpace its rival to the finish line in the race for city status?
Uasin Gishu leaders are upbeat that they will clinch the mantle, saying a lot is going its way. “Population wise, we have hit the target and even our infrastructure is OK,” County Lands minister Nelson Maritim told Nation in an interview.
'BIG FOUR AGENDA'
He said the county has partnered with the National Housing Corporation to set up 5,000 new housing units under the Big Four Agenda and rehabilitate existing ones. “We are also constructing roads to the estates within the town with the help of the Kenya Urban Support Programme,” added Mr Maritim.
Mr Maritim said the county government was working on an Integrated Development Plan for the town as per the 2011 Urban Areas and Cities Act.
To address the issue of solid waste management, the county government has entered into an agreement with a Swedish firm to assist in garbage collection. The project will see a Swedish company, Norrköping Water and Waste, set up a multimillion shilling solid waste project at the Kipkaren dumpsite and the Kipkenyo sewer.
The project will not only solve the solid waste menace, but also generate power that will be injected to the national grid. “Through this power generation, we shall discuss with the Ministry of Energy to give power subsidy as an incentive to companies setting up within Uasin Gishu County. This is a project with a very big promise; to take care of the environment and at the same time to produce power,” said Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno.
However, it will not be a smooth ride for Eldoret. A lot needs to be fixed before the town can confidently say it will attain the coveted city status crown. One of the biggest impediments is poor drainage system. Many streets are usually flooded during the rainy season, forcing residents to wade through pools of water to access their homes.
“If the town has to attain city status, the devolved unit will have to ensure that the central business district (CBD) is be free from poor drainage system and enough street lights installed,” said Mr Philip Chebunet, a resident.
Another problem the town has to grapple with is congestion, caused mainly by hawkers who flood the city with all manner of wares. Traffic snarl-ups are a headache too.
The county, however, says it’s making good progress in decongesting the CBD, with a Sh150 million market under construction.