Bungoma County invests in housing in preparation for city status

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CEC for Lands, Housing and Urban Planning Bramuel Murgor/photo by Anne Chebet

The county government of Bungoma has started a resolute investment in housing by renovating 84 affordable housing units as a way of achieving the national government’s agenda of providing affordable housing to Kenyans.

The County executive Committee member (CEC) in charge of Lands, housing and urban planning Mr. Bramuel Murgor said that the project will address the recurrent housing challenges, especially those affecting the poor.

According to Murgor, the county government will build permanent units for the poor in every ward.

“We  have already renovated 84 houses and we are going to build quality comfortable permanent units for the poor in every ward,” he said

The CEC also revealed that identified towns will benefit from establishment of bus parks and fire fighting equipment

The county governor Wycliffe Wangamati has set aside 10 acres of land in Bungoma municipality and the same will apply to other urban centres for this noble project that is expected to reflect in all the urban areas across the county.

The governor said he has prioritized urban development since towns are the drivers of development in any country.

“Town within the county serve as administrative centers, security provision centers, as well as main social and cultural delivery points,” noted the county boss

On her part, the county director for housing MS. Christine Simiyu noted that this is a noble project that will steer economic development in the country.

“The rate of rural to urban migration is very high and this increases the demand for housing in towns,” said the director.

She mentioned that affordable housing will benefit the middle income earners in the county while social housing is set for the poor in every ward.

“The governor initiated the social scheme housing project to benefit those low income earners who may not be able to afford quality but affordable housing,” she noted

Most of the urban areas within the county are under pressure and there is congestion of facilities due to increased movement of people and goods from rural areas to urban centres

Mr. Murgor said that most trading centres will be upgraded to towns and municipalities due to population threshold that was revealed in the census report.

This, according to the CEC is a foundation being laid to prepare Bungoma to acquire city status in a short time.

“Bungoma is anticipating a city status basing on the high population and infrastructural development such as 1.3 billion dual carriage way from Musikoma to Kanduyi,” he said

The team tasked with seeing possibilities of expanding Bungoma and Kimilili Municipalities boundaries to cover more wards and create Chwele and Webuye municipalities paid a courtesy call to Governor Wangamati as they prepare to look at the possibility of delineating boundaries of four urban centers including Bungoma Municipality, Kimilili Municipality and recommend for creation of Webuye and Chwele Municipalities.

The 9 member ad hoc committee was appointed by C S for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works Hon James Macharia in May.

Governor Wangamati had written to the Cabinet Secretary in March this year requesting for delineation of boundaries of four urban centers in the County in a process that would see Webuye and Chwele Towns become municipalities and boundaries of the already established Bungoma and Kimilili Municipalities expanded to cover more wards.

The success of the exercise will see Bungoma town prepared for city status in the near future.

The Ad-hoc committee will look into the Governor’s proposal to create Webuye and Chwele as Municipalities and expand Bungoma Municipality to cover Musikoma, Kabula, Tuuti Marakaru, Bukembe West, Sang’alo West, South Bukusu and West Bukusu. Currently, Bungoma Municipality only covers Township and Khalaba.

The committee will also look into the Governor’s proposal to have Kimilili Municipality cover Kibingei, Maine and Kamukuywa Wards besides the Kimilili ward.

The nine are Mathew Thiga from IEBC as Chair, Thomas O. Ogutu of State Department for Housing and Urban Development as Secretary and members Geoffrey P. Kituyi from State Department of Agriculture, Dr. Lucy W. Nganga from State Department of Environment and Boniface Wanyama from Kenya Institute of Planners.

Others are Alfred Eshitiera from the Institute of Surveyors, Wellington B. Sindani from Department of Lands, Housing and Urban Planning (Bungoma County) and Onesmus Makhanu from the Department of Agriculture (Bungoma County).

Governor Wangamati requested that it fast tracks the process as a pioneer to improved urban planning in the wake of increasing urban populations.

The chair of the committee Mathew Thiga said that they are compiling a report to be handed over to the CS for lands James Macharia and recommendations of their survey will be used benchmark similar exercises in other Counties.

He said that Marsabit and Kiambu have also written to the Housing and Urban Development CS for delineation of boundaries and are awaiting appointment and gazettement of ad hoc committees to oversee the exercise.

The county government of Bungoma has also invested in a well-equipped Geographical Information System (GIS0 Laboratory that will help reduce the widespread illegal buildings and also help the county in surveying and demarcating land in the county.

“By end of this year people will not be going to Kakamega to access maps since they will be accessed in the county,” said the CEC.

The CEC mentioned that Bungoma County is among the best counties to absorb funds having implemented 95 % of its projects which guarantees the next allocation for the 2020/2021 financial year

The county government has also qualified for a UK urban development grant of 340 million for development of roads, water connection, electricity, solid waste management, market construction and bus parks within Bungoma municipality.

Public participation forums have been held in Bungoma, Chwele, Kimilili and Webuye to get residents views and determine if they are in support of this program before the ad hoc committee writes a final report that will be approved by the members of the public before the four towns are upgraded to municipalities.

“The process of upgrading these towns will be based on the law and the public will be involved in the process of decision making. If anyone has a different opinion from the public, then he or she should write to the ad hoc committee which will consider the different opinions,” said Murgor

However, the CEC said that there are legal challenges cause by external political interference which slows down the process of implementation

“There are lots of legal challenges and conditions which need time to comply with,” he added