Governors push for Sh20b to develop urban centres
The Council of Governors (CoG) wants the government and Parliament to allocate Sh20 billion to support urbanisation and urban development in various cities and towns.
This even as the Ministry of Housing warned of the proliferation of informal settlements in major towns due to neglect and under-investments in the urban areas.
Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga and CoG’s Lands, Housing and urban Development Committee Chair Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu) lamented that urban areas across the countries have been neglected despite being centres of revenue generation.
“Our urbanisation rate is at 4.4 per cent annually. About 500,000 people troop to urban areas every year but there is no strategy at all to improve these areas,” Hinga said.
He went on: “If you think about county’s own source revenue, what comes to your mind is urban areas but ask our governors how much they are investing in these areas. Schedule Four of the Constitution omitted the urban agenda.”
In addition, CoG argues that there was huge financing gap for urban infrastructure and service provision, adding that there was need for devolved units and National government to explore other financing options envisaged in the PFM Act.
“The council deliberated on this matter and approved a resolution to engage with the National government and Parliament to explore the creation of a National Urban development Fund. The Fund should be at least Sh20 billion of the annual printed estimates to support urbanisation,” Prof Nyong’o said.
While appearing before the Senate Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations Committee Chaired by Wajir Senator Mohamed Abbas, Nyong’o charged that county governments have in the past funded urban areas mainly through revenue allocated by counties to the urban area or city and grants and donations. “County Governments should enact legislation to enable cities and urban areas to collect and spend part of own source revenue at source as envisaged n section 172 (a) of PFM Act,” Nyong’o added.
Governors also want counties to enact legislation to implement Section 173 of PFM Act on the objective criteria for allocation of funds to cities and urban areas.
Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja, who also appeared before the committee spelt out his plans to create boroughs in his county.
“It is important to note that Kenya does not have specific boroughs administration system in place. The administrative structure in Kenya is primarily organised into counties,” he noted. County boss asked the Senate to amend the Urban Cities Areas and Cities Act, 2011 to introduce a section specifically addressing boroughs as administration units in cities.
He pointed out that the Section will cover aspects such as establishment of Boroughs and its management. According to Sakaja, the city will be divided into five sections; Nairobi North, South, East, West and Central and will be managed by boards and properly financed to improve service provision.
“Given the unique nature of Nairobi city, the boroughs will be administered by borough managers who will be responsible for day-to-day rolling out of the activities,” said Sakaja. Currently, there are about 1, 411 informal settlements in urban areas across the country, with most of them being in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
Further, Sakaja wants the Act amended to grant governor of counties with boroughs as administrative units the authority to formulate regulations concerning the administration tailored to the particular requirements and circumstances of that county.