Thka Sub-County Stakeholders Consultations
County Governments in Kenya are obliged to prepare a raft of plans to foster local development and improved service provision (Link County Government Act, 2012). Kiambu County Government has instituted a moratorium on large farm subdivision for urban development pending preparation of a County Spatial Plan. Towards this a series of stakeholder consultations have been arranged in different sub-counties of the Government. On 24th February, one such meeting took place at Thika Town Hall starting at 10:30. The meeting was attended by approximately 60 persons representing different organizations and community groups: businessmen, self-help groups, the press, CBO’s, NGO’s, Government organizations and Universities.
The meeting was launched by Mr. Samuel Makali, the Sub-County Physical planner. He apologized for the late start due to a technical hitch with the presentation equipment. He then introduced the Sub-County administrator Mr. John Mutie and later requested each person in attendance to introduce themselves and the organization or group they represented.
Following the introductions, Mr. Makali outlined the agenda for the meeting. Thika Sub-county which is part of the larger Kiambu County needed to be included in the County’s spatial plan for the period of 2014-2024. The meeting was called on to build up from the last meeting by reporting to the people the findings. The meeting would start with a presentation of the progress on the Kiambu county spatial plan preparation followed by an open session for questions and contributions from the stakeholders.
The planner began the presentation by defining what a spatial plan was; a long term regional physical development plan for the County. The purpose of the plan was to ensure sustainable use of resources, designate land-uses, provide a basis for lower level planning and provide harmonious coordination of development. The plan preparation would identify the county’s resources, assess existing infrastructure and services, identify fragile ecosystems, assess institutional capacity and recommend a pragmatic integrated spatial framework for optimal resource utilization and overall development of a region.
The Kiambu County’s vision is to look towards success and prosperity for everyone in a safe and harmonious county. The mission is to make Kiambu County the best place for people to grow, live and work. Kiambu County has an approximate area of 2,543.5 km2 with 476.3km2 under forest cover. It is bordered by Nairobi County to the South, Machakos to the East, Nyandarua & Murang’a to the North, Nakuru and Kajiado to the West. The presentation highlighted issues on Human settlement and distribution with major references to the main towns in the county: Thika, Juja, Ruiru, Kiambu, Limuru, Kikuyu, Gatundu, Karuri and Githunguri. In 2009, the national census data had reported a total population of 1,623,282 persons (KNBS, 2009), projected to be approximately 1.8 million in 2014 and 2.2 million in 2024. The infrastructure covered transport modes of road networks, the 131kms of railway networks and the Kijabe air strip. Social services covered a highlight on health facilities distribution, educational facilities and recreational facilities. Finally the presentation covered the economic base for the Thika sub-county covering most aspects affecting economic growth and prosperity. This included daily livelihoods of persons in both formal and informal sectors such as agriculture, industrial and institutional activities.
The presentation ended with a brief highlight of the proposed recommendations from the previous meeting on which the stakeholders were to deliberate upon. These recommendations included;
§ The need for a Jua-Kali site for the informal sector and Need for modern markets at Gatuanyaga, Jamhuri and Moi markets
§ Provision for a planned cemetery and relocation of the stadium to Karibaribi and building of a city parking space on the site
§ A recreational modern theatre to be build
§ Provision for slum upgrading of Kiandutu, Gachagi, Madharau and Umoja settlements
§ Proper solid waste management provision and Planning for sewer way-leaves in Gatuanyaga.
§ Improvement of road networks and opening of existing access roads and planning for new roads and revamping of the railway sector in Thika
§ Identification, planning and rehabilitation of quarry sites
§ Upgrading of health facilities to at least level 5 referral
§ To propose dispensaries for each ward and Improve emergency services (i.e.) provision of ambulances
§ Improvement of tourist attraction sites e.g. 14 falls
§ Planning for water supply sources with proper connection of residences to THIWASCO
§ Proper planning for industrial sites and incorporation of the master plan for infrastructure.
§ Provision for a By-pass from Witeithie to Thika to ease heavy load traffic at Gatindu junction as the main entrance to Thika town.
During discussion session stakeholders got chance to acknowledge the work done thus far by the County government. They had a few more things to add such as:
§ The provision of Schools and Education facilities in Koingwa area
§ The provision for counseling and rehabilitation centres for various health and wellness issues.
§ The need for a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the stakeholders to follow-up on the implementation of their proposals
§ Proposals for the provision of a fully serviced industrial park.
§ There was an urgent need for the expansion of the Blue-post exit from Thika.
§ One business-man claimed the urgent need to clear the many bus terminuses all-over the Thika streets that are creating congestion – they should be provided with an official well designed bus-park.
§ Re-organize the lanes in Thika by making some one way like Nairobi CBD streets.
§ One Housing cooperative associations representative cried foul on the denial of titles to 40*80 plots. He claimed that the policy to limit a minimum of 50*100 plot sizes would only kill opportunities for the impoverished members of the community/the lowly paid workers.
§ There was need to modernize transport in Thika by putting traffic lights.
§ Security issues were a scare to many and needed consideration and addressing as Thika was growing very fast.
§ A representative of persons with disabilities highlighted the need to have an inclusive town that would consider their situation. He also hoped that the county would provide rehabilitation centres for such persons in the bid to create opportunities for them.
The chairman of the chamber of commerce for the private sector in Thika Sub-county presented a list of some of their proposals and complains. He stated that the business community was ready to work with the administration for the prosperity of the county. According to him, Thika town was at its apex now, but warned that if proper mitigating measures are not implemented the town would start dying off. There was need for provision of proper incentives to private investors. It was observed that Thika has a history of poor development control where partial plan approvals were being done in an orthodox manner e.g. approval for high density development in a low-density area. In addition, there were too many informal activities within the town streets that were pushing away investors. There was need for proper civic education and sensitization campaigns for awareness creation to the community on on-going activities and by-laws of the county. The speaker claimed that the planner’s office had been approving buildings on wrong sites such as roads and unplanned zones. It was also claimed that the planners took too long to reply to proposed plan submissions, something that directly affected investors’ interests. There were cases of reported corruption within administrative offices. The chairman offered to mobilize the private sector community from major companies and organization for a more focused private sector group discussion. He also promised to forward a report to the planners’ office on issues the private sector saw necessary to be addressed and would affect the future of the Sub-counties economy and development.
The participants were candid in expressing their views. However, it appeared that the meeting was made up of only invited select few. This left some groups not represented, such as the communities in the informal settlements and other residential areas. The youth was also not fully represented, thus a lack of proposals affecting the youth. There was an emerging concern on the formal and informal sectors in the sub-county. There was a clear discontent of the business community/private sector on the way the planning office was being handled. There was a need to include the persons with disabilities in further consultations to find out their needs. The meeting ended at around 3p.m.
By James Wanyoike, CURI.