Eldoret may be counting down the days before being crowned a City. I am not even sure why, but something about it just excites me. And It doesn’t come as a surprise due to the facelift that Eldoret is starting to witness. I am such a sucker for beautiful skylines but that aside, what are the ‘real’ benefits beyond the tag ‘city’?
It’s fair to say that the process is in its initial stages. I mean, the ad hoc committee; chaired by Mr. Willy Kenei(also chair of the chamber of commerce, Uasin Gishu) was formed to collect the views of different residents and stakeholders. They just concluded the social hall meetings and are currently working on the report. The committee is tasked with establishing if the town meets the criteria for establishment as a city through its people’s views.
Eldoret whose main characteristics are its direct connection to the East and Central African countries, and its ranking as the fastest-growing town in Kenya which now has a population of about 500,000 people.
According to Cyprian Chesire, the county planner, and a member of the secretariat to the ad hoc committee, there are limitless opportunities that this will bring to the people of Eldoret.
“The ‘city’ tag is a game changer for us. It will revolutionize our economy, medical sector, financial sector, education, our agricultural hinterlands among other sectors.”
Beyond the tag “city” on Eldoret’s Economy
“Apart from, of course, the additional funding by the national government provided to cities, Eldoret wants to place itself as an economic hub to the Western region. Being a city will affirm our status as a true gateway to the West as well the North rift region. That’s what we are trying to leverage on.” Said Chesire.
He adds that Eldoret as headquarters of the North Rift Economic Bloc, (NOREB), will reinforce it as an economic hub. Beyond the tag “city” is an economic boom!
Infrastructure development attributed to the “city” status
Infrastructure is directly benefitting from the city tag. It’s the prestige that comes with infrastructure for me, to be honest.
“We are currently awaiting the opening of the recently completed Southern by-pass project. There is also an anticipated northern bypass currently at the design stage, which will go through the Northern part of the town. Not forgetting the intention to dualize the road from the airport through town to Chepkoilel.”
“The airport also intends to extend its runway by about 500 meters, this extension will enable it to accommodate any kind of plane with any size of cargo.” Said Chesire.
One thing you probably didn’t know, is that there is an upcoming referral hospital at Kiplombe. Sitting on a 200-acre piece of land, the capacity of the hospital is targeted at 2,000 beds. This means improved healthcare through such facilities together with accompanying factors such as employment.
Talking of health care, have you ever wondered why the majority of hospitals in Eldoret are around The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital? Yeah well, I was today years old when I learned that it’s a thing and not a coincidence as I previously thought. Here, and any other city/town for that matter, usually gets an influx of medical facilities around an anchor referral facility.
You’ll notice this from Eldoret hospital, Mediheal hospital, and other emerging hospitals. Being a city will further our quest to be a medical service destination. To put that into perspective, we have the upcoming 2,000-bed capacity referral hospital at Kiplombe and along it we have the city tag, requesting the national government for additional funding to execute projects will become very easy.” Said Chesire.
Eldoret currently boasts of being an education hub. This is made possible by universities such as Moi University and the University of Eldoret situated in the area, together with colleges such as the Rift Valley Technical Training Institute.( It makes me wonder how much credit Moi University and UOE; give Eldoretians for many times we mention them when talking about the city… Oh! I mean town!). With the city tag, more institutions will be eyeing Eldoret thanks to population increase and also the status it would attract.
The population, increased demand for goods and services together with improved infrastructure resulting from the city tag, according to Chesire, will attract investors. Both in the public and private sectors. Moreover, it’ll open up Eldoret to the world and consequently foreign direct investments among other investments which are possibilities as well.
“It will enhance our attractiveness in terms of the conferencing/business facilities. When there are meetings, we tend to want to go to Kisumu or Mombasa, or Nairobi because when you go there, you attract better allowances. It is a very big thing.”
“Now public and also private sector departments might want to come and hold their meetings here, it being a city means they’ll attract more money to their pockets and so will we.” Said Chesire.
AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRIAL SECTOR
As an agricultural zone and the country’s food basket, Eldoret has great potential. Not all will agriculture be revolutionized, but a transition to high-value crops for exports can then be effected. With the convenience of our international airport; which by the way is 30 mins nearer to most international destinations as compared to Nairobi; exporting will be easier.
In addition to the expected agricultural bloom, the Industrial sector, through production, aggregation of this farm produce, and exporting, will grow as well.
Strongly seconding this, is Jael Maritim a communications Officer and a secretariat member as well.
“From Infrastructure such as roads, health facilities, water sewerage systems. The growing infrastructure will promote job creation. The job creation among other factors, in turn, will attract rural-urban movement which will then enhance businesses, grow markets for produce and possibly open Eldoret International airport for exports and imports as well.”
Jael added that with the city tag and upgrades within the municipality, this kind of growth might eventually lead to an expansion beyond the city boundaries.
WATER AND SEWERAGE SECTOR
Truth be told, the sewer system has been a major challenge in many parts of the country.
“We acknowledge that there are challenges just like any other city would have. But Eldowas is doing a lot of work in that regard. A casing point is the ongoing extensions. Main sewer trunk extensions. They are extending to Kipkorgot, to annex-outspan which makes a lot of Kilometres of trunk sewer extension, and it is currently ongoing. Probably the next four, or three months they’ll be commissioning it.”
According to a physical planner, Kimani, who is also a secretariat member, these are the initial stages, and once the report has been submitted to the national assembly and the senate. The decision to confer Eldoret the city tag or not rests upon the president. How soon do you think would be the wait?