As Kisumu City plans to celebrate its 118 years of existence later this year, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has promised to relook at the county’s urban planning, barely days after a survey ranked him the best city county governor.
Prof Nyong’o, who took over the county from Mr Jack Ranguma eight months ago, said services like cleaning, unclogging drainages, security lighting, easier payment of fees and market improvements will punctuate his tenure even though this region is also used to “occasional toxic politics”.
Kisumu, one of the three city counties in the country, has had a bloated workforce, recorded low revenue collection and improper structures within and outside the city centre and the governor has vowed to ensure all these are addressed to achieve a clean city with adequate labour for efficient service delivery.
In November, the governor said he was forced to start clearing a Sh3.5 billion debt owed to utility firms. But not because there was no money, he said. Past officials simply collected revenue and diverted it, he told a press conference.
He said he is committed to creating a conducive environment for business and transforming the lakeside city. “We are establishing proper structures and infrastructure to ensure that businessmen operate in proper environments that would enable them to prosper,” the county chief said.
In the past three weeks, the governor has had to defend his zeal to flatten kiosks and structures he says have been erected on land they shouldn’t. A two-floor apartment was flattened after surveyors found it was erected on a water supply tank. Stalls erected along drainage pathways were also destroyed.
The governor, who spoke after concluding an induction retreat of county executive committee members, underlined the need to firm up government plans and programmes during his term, spelling out periodic deliverables and results for each department.
“We must align everything to the County Integrated Development Plan II and the Annual Development Plan for 2018/19,” he said.
Prof Nyong’o also stated that the county will strengthen collaboration with non-State actors, national government institutions and elected leaders to ensure effective service delivery to the people of Kisumu.
He promised to work even harder after a survey on Tuesday last week ranked him the best city county chief. But he scored a C+, which he admits is still a low grade.
Kisumu, previously known as Port Florence, started as a railway depot on the lakeside around 1900. Available water and conducive climate attracted the British and Indian workers who had been working on the iconic Kenya-Uganda Railway and the town’s nearness to the lake shores gave good conditions to serve as a railway centre.
Like most urban areas, its original plan had either been discarded or simply shelved amid land grabbing.
The city has grappled with dumping of garbage and it is only early this year that a decades-long dumping site near the centre of town at Kachok was relocated to Kajulu. However, the contractor and the county still face a court case after petitioners challenged the relocation based on environmental reasons.
Compared to his Nairobi and Mombasa counterparts Mike Sonko and Hassan Joho, Prof Nyong’o emerged the best in the County Citizens’ Score Card by Trends and Insights for Africa.
Respondents rated Kisumu as the best performing county with a score of 56 per cent (C+) followed by Mombasa (53 per cent) and Nairobi (44 per cent).