Written by Rosemary Wachiye
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A view of Webuye Town from Chetambe Hills [ PHOTOS | RoseMary Wachiye | West Fm]
Webuye Town lies 376 Km North West of Nairobi-Eldoret Kampala road about 65 Km Eastern side of Kitale town on the main Uganda Railway line.
Located East of Bungoma town, the town serves as the meeting point of two major highways; Webuye-Kitale highway through the famous ‘T-Junction’ area and Eldoret-Malaba highway through ‘Dina’ area.
It started off as Webuye Market Centre then elevated to a town council to cope with the rise in population in the area then elevated to Municipal to meet the rapidly growing population.
Webuye Municipality covers 69 Square KM with a total population of 175,000 and consists of 6 wards; Luandeti Ward consisting of Kaburengu and Chimoi, Nabuyole Ward, Webuye West Ward also known as Matulo, Webuye South Ward also known as Maraka, Webuye Central Ward known as Nangeni and Webuye North Ward known as Chebosi.
The town is found in Webuye constituency that has a total population of 230,253 among them 69,311 registered voters who are divided into 11,443 in Sitikho ward, 14, 009 in Matulo Ward, 13,475 in Bokoli ward in Webuye West Constituency and 7,272 in Mihuu ward, 12, 975 in Ndivisi ward, and 10,702 in Maraka ward in Webuye East Constituency.
Webuye is made up of the five residential estates; Muslim where most Islamic believers stay, Site and service where middle level citizens stay, E-quarter near the Park villa hotel, Chocolate- where Pan paper workers stay, National estate owned by Pan paper factory, Guest House where the District Commissioner and OCPD stay as well as other senior civil servants.
Though consisting of mainly two dominant communities; Bukusu and Tachoni Webuye, is a cosmopolitan town since it also consists of other communities like Asians, Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba, Kalenjin and many more.
Asian communities reside behind the Webuye trading centre while the local people reside in the wards in outskirts of the town.
Rail and road network
Webuye is centrally located with a railway line, roads that interconnect towards and from big towns, and the Matulo airstrip that creates an area for trading different products and free movement of the goods and services for exchange.
It has well renovated interconnection roads in the town premises; Nyange street, MTC street from Guest house through to the Webuye Medical Training Centre, another street from the National Cereals and Produce Board to St.Joseph’s Primary and Pan Paper street from the market to Pan Paper grounds.
Government offices in the area are Webuye Municipal Council, Webuye Law Courts, Bungoma East Police Station, and District Commissioner’s office, District Registrar of person’s office, Probation office, Ministry of Livestock, Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Youth affairs which provide an easy access to services for the residents.
The town has numerous recreational facilities like Pan Paper Recreational Centre and Pan Paper stadium where young people relax from as well as enjoy different sporting activities, luxurious hotels like Park villa, Pan Paper Guest House, Half London, Livonda and Satellite and social joints like Website Inn and Sweet Waters joint for its famous goat meet.
In between Webuye town and Kaburengu market along the Eldoret- Webuye highway, there is the famous ‘Mama Sara’ restaurant that is esteemed for its delicious unique chicken fried from the chicken’s own natural fat.
Though it’s a small scale enterprise Mama Sara attracts the big and mighty attested by the type of cars parked outside the restaurant at mid-day. Named after its owner Sara, the place has grown to be known by not just residents of the area around but most politicians hold their meetings there while enjoying the meal.
The Webuye Town Hall
Plots owned by the Webuye Municipal attract payment of Sh.4, 200 rent per year for the 50 by 100 size plot but the fee is dependent of size of the plot.
The cost of a 50 by 100 plot under the ownership of the Municipal Council of Webuye ranges from sh. 250,000 and 300,000 which is alongside allotment letters while privately owned plots of the same size cost Sh.400,000.
Rental houses in the municipality are at an affordable rate; a two bedroom house in town costs Sh.3,000 per month,while the same size around the District Hospital ranges from Sh.4,000 to Sh.5,000.
A three bedroom house at the Pan Paper national estate is rented out for Sh.5, 000.
Businessmen in the town who conduct businesses in rented buildings pay license, through the single business permit of Sh.1, 000 subjective fee.
The expected total revenue collection of the town per month is Sh.3 Million but according to the Town Clerk Mr. Josephat Ayonga they have never achieved the set target and always collect less than that.
Mr.Ayonga reveals that there is pending rates of over Sh.40 Million of unpaid rents for the plots in town hence hindering growth of the council.
Business booms during the town’s market day every Wednesday of the week when vendors of different products come from all over to trade in the market.
State of hygiene in Webuye town is nothing to worry about, the Municipal council is committed to its cleaning duties and it collects garbage from the market, there are also numerous composite pits in the town and rubbish bins.
Security is also enhanced since in the recent past there has been a notable improvement in security in the region owing to the reduced incidences of armed robberies and murder unlike the previous years.
The security report for this year shows that, in January there were no murders, two in February, two in March, none in April, one in May and none in June.
Afforestation of Webuye has good green cover in town especially at the Muliro gardens where trees have been planted and well maintained and as well as at the Pan paper stadium.
Morality standards are highly maintained with prostitution only taking place in the bars and drinking places but no notable gangs or drug dealers.
An aerial view of the Paper factory
By the mention of Webuye town, one cannot forego its backbone, the paper making factory whose smoke in the air and the oduor marks entry to the town.
Located on the eastern side of the town along Eldoret- Webuye highway, Pan African Paper Mills commonly known as Pan Paper was previously owned by Asians but is now under receivership management of the government.
The town has suffered a big loss in revenue since the closure of Pan Paper factory 6 months ago and also through the endless disruptions at the mill which was the major economic booster in the town, offering Sh.3 Million of annual revenue contribution to the Webuye Municipality.
The factory’s massive effect of pollution to the town cannot be overlooked, a clear show by the rusted iron sheets on houses around the firm, the long grass and swamp that has since turned bushy in what was the factory’s water recycling zone.
Needless to say, according to some residents of Webuye the closure of Pan Paper factory was a sigh of relief since there is no more bad odour from the smoke released in the air and the people are now breathing fresh air.
Despite the closure of the plant, Webuye still consists of both private and state owned companies among them Pan African Chemicals, National Cereals and Produce Board and Webuye Millers located at Dina area that contribute to its sustainability.
It also consists of diverse educational training institutions among them Public and Private schools, colleges, tertiary institutions and University.
The Webuye Masinde Muliro University Campus has upgraded the town to bring forth education opportunity to both young and old, unemployed and employed who seek to upgrade and elevate in their studies.
It has a total enrollment of 365 students among them 157 taking degree courses with 96 for regular program and 61 for school based; 209 taking diploma courses with 79 among them taking Business Management, 45 for Sugarcane Agronomy, 25 for Social work and Community Development, 27 for Criminology and Criminal justice, 22 for Information Technology and 11 for Disaster Management.
Its initiation has brought much life to the town with many hostels put up to accommodate the students; it’s also business boost to the entrepreneurs in town which in turn contributes to economic growth of the town.
The institution also foresees a growth in its population with over 500 more students expected to join in the next intake early September 2012.
The town is also known for its revered level 4 Webuye District Hospital, which serves over 500 patients daily from the community in the town and the outskirts of the town through its referral duty. It’s also used as a practical training centre for medical trainees at the Webuye Medical Training Centre.
The Kenya Medial Training Centre (above) at Webuye has also contributed to the economy of the area with over 100 student nurses graduating from the institution and join the District hospital to offer their services as well as for practical purposes.
The MTC has also helped a number of residents to see the need of their children joining the noble profession of nursing, which according to its former Principal Mr. Masengeli among the 650 students enrolled 40% are from the region within Webuye.
The institution offers two courses Nursing and Clinical Medicine; 418 students among them taking Nursing course from 1st year to 4th year while 232 students undertaking the clinical medicine course from 1st year to 3rd year.
There is more enrolment for women than men with over 450 of them being female and the reminder 200 are male.
Webuye town has best performing schools which set a good educational foundation for the children like St.Joseph's primary that competes closely with Salvation Army (S.A) Primary and provincial secondary schools like St.Mary's Girls High school and St.Mathews ACK Girls high school.
Major traders in the town belong to both Bukusu and kikuyu community that reside in the region.
The town is growing towards the west near Malaha area which is along the Webuye-Kitale highway owing to the many business enterprises set up in the area such as the new Satelitte hotel, Medical Training institute and a number of shops.
Park villa is owned by the son of former Mayor of Nairobi the late Isaac Lukonzo, Half London Hotel owned by Mr. Heman Murule a cashier at a school in town and Website Inn owned by Mr.Henry Maturu
Tourist attraction sites
The history of the two major communities residing in Webuye lies in the famous Chetambe War between bukusu community and the white men that took place at the lukoba lwa chetambe on top of Chetambe hills. The historical site where the war took place offers a great tourist attraction.
The famous Chetambe hills situated within the municipality, besides offering the beautiful view of the town also offer a host to communication network boosters as well as broadcasting masts of radio stations covering the region.
The mighty River Nzoia (above) passes through the municipality separating Bungoma County from Kakamega County as it marks the boundary demarcation between Webuye area and Kaburengu.
The River is a source of water supply for residents of Webuye through the Nzoia Water Services Company (NZOWASCO) which provides water to most residential houses.
Within the municipality also lies Nabuyole Falls that are a product of the River Nzoia which offers great tourism attraction site with its flooded and fast moving water. The falls may soon be turned into hydro-electric energy generator if the set plans of investment by a Chinese company kick off.
Webuye town also has a weigh bridge located at Dina area along Webuye-Eldoret highway where trucks pass through to be checked on the weight of the load being transported from Nairobi to Uganda through Malaba border.
Transport sector in Webuye mainly consists of Webuye Shuttles which are medium size public service nissans owned by a group of businessmen in the area that commute from the town to neighboring towns. The main Kenya Uganda Railway line passes through the town at the famous fly-over area underneath the Webuye-Eldoret highway. Though through time the line has it’s practically become dormant and unused.
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