Written by West FM
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The Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2011 assented to by President Kibaki on 27th August, 2011 and to come into effect after the first General Elections held under the Constitution of Kenya 2010 was enacted to give effect to Article 184 of the Constitution and provide for the classification, governance and management of urban areas and cities.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act recognizes only three types of urban areas being Cities, Municipalities and Towns. The Act stipulates that for an urban area to qualify to be called a City, it must have a population of at least 500,000 residents according to the final gazetted results of the latest population census carried out by an institution authorized to under a written law. The urban area must further meet other stringent criteria set out in the Act.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 sets criteria for an urban area to be conferred the status of a Municipality. That a town is eligible to for the conferment of the Municipal Status if it satisfies the following:
(a) Has a population of at least two hundred and fifty thousand residents according to the final gazetted results of the last population census carried out by an institution authorized under any written law, preceding the grant;
(b) Has an Integrated Development Plan in accordance with the Act;
(c) Has demonstrable revenue collection or revenue collection potential;
(d) Has demonstrable capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations
(e) Has the capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver essential series to its residents as provided in the First Schedule of the Act;
(f) Has institutionalized active participation by its residents in the management of its affairs;
(g) Has sufficient space for expansion
(h) Has infrastructural facilities, including but not limited to street lighting, markets and fire stations; and
(i) Has a capacity for functional and effective waste disposal
And lastly the County Governors or may in consultation with the County Executive Committee confer the status of a Town on area that meets the following criteria;
(a) A population of atleast ten thousand residents according to the final gazetted results of the latest population census carried out by an institution authorized under any written law, preceding the grant;
(b) Demonstrable economic, functional and financial viability
(c) The existence of an Integrated Development Plan in accordance with the Act;
(d) The capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver essential services to its residents as provided in the First Schedule; and
(e) Sufficient space for expansion
The legal reality then is that upon the holding of the next general elections Western Province and North Rift will have hardly five Municipalities and only several dozens of Towns. The effect of the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 will therefore render those living in urban areas of less than 10,000 people to be classified as living in rural areas as the law does not consider an urban area with less than 10,000 people to be a Town.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 also establishes the legal structure and framework for the governance and management of Urban Areas and Cities.
The Management of Cities and the Municipalities is vested in the County Government and administered on its behalf by a Board of Nine Members, a Manager and Other Staff of officers as the County Public Service may determine. And of the Nine Board Members to run the Municipality, five shall be appointed through a comprehensive process by the County Executive Committee and nominated by:
1. An umbrella body representing professional associations in the area
2. An association representing the private sector in the area
3. A cluster representing registered associations of the informal sector
4. A cluster representing registered neighbourhood associations in the area
5. An association of Urban Areas and Cities.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act states that one shall not be appointed a member of the Board unless he is a citizen of Kenya, is ordinarily resident or has a permanent dwelling in the Municipality, carries on business in the Municipality, or has lived in the Municipality for atleast five years. The Member of the Board are to hold office for a term of five years on a part time basis. The Member of the Board shall elect a chairperson and vice chairperson from among Board Members.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 stipulates that the Towns (those with atleast 10,000 to 249,000 people) are under the stewardship of an Administrator and who shall perform such functions as the Committee appointed to oversee the Town by the Governor may determine.
The Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 provides for the statutory duties of Municipalities and Towns to deliver services and operate within the framework of Integrated Development Planning.
West fm states that phenomenon of mayors is destined to disappear and the whole manner and mode of management of the Municipalities and Towns of the region will undergo radical transformation. The question to be asked is whether as a region we have digested the far reaching new legal framework that will direct the management and governance of the urban areas after the next general elections.
West fm challenges the electorate in Western Province to get acquainted with the dictates of the Urban Areas and Cities Act 2011 as it has latent opportunities to enable them improve the condition and status of their Municipalities and Towns and yes employment opportunities and business opportunities.
The Devolved County Government has opportunities, offers new beginnings but Western Province and North Rift must imbibe the legal frameworks and implement them or stand ready and prepared to put into operation the new infrastructure of urban areas governance and management come April 2013.
The People of the region must comprehend and appreciate the changes inherent in the composition structure and governance matrix that the Urban Areas and Cities Act will unleash so that they are not found unprepared and unable to harness the same.
And the population trends worldwide point to more people going to settle and live in urban areas than rural areas and Western Province and North Rift must deliberately encourage its residents to settle in strategic Urban areas so that they can achieve the Municipality and City status. Municipalities and Cities will definitely control more resources and generate more employment and business opportunities and those regions of Kenya which will fail or be slow to develop Cities will miss on the economic opportunities inherent to Cities under the law. Yes the people of Western Province and North Rift must urbanize in an organized deliberate and speedy manner as the future belongs to Urban Areas and Cities.
WEST FM EDITORIAL©2012
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