The journey towards Thika Industrial Smart City kicks off


Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi  explains to President William Ruto and Kirinyaga Council of Governors’ chairperson Anne Waiguru about a model of the proposed Thika Industrial Smart City by Kiambu County, during the official opening of the 8th Annual Devolution Conference at Eldoret Sports Club in Uasin Gishu County, on August 16, 2023

By  Enock Maroa

Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi has revamped his quest to make Thika the first City in Mt Kenya region by end of this year, which the governor says will generate 50, 000 job opportunities and spur economy.

The governor has reignited the process by establishing a fresh ad hoc committee to midwife the town’s elevation into an industrial smart city, and Mr Wamatangi said will culminate in President William Ruto conferring it with a charter.

Mr Wamatangi initiated the process last year but was forced to shelve it after a section of politicians, among them an elected leader in the Sub-County, sabotaged it by disrupting the public participation process in what was linked to selfish political interests.
The county chief gazetted representatives from the business community, Kenya Institute of Planners, Kenya Institute of Public Accountants, Kenya Institute of Architecture, Law Society of Kenya, Association of Urban Areas and Cities, and Kenya Institute of Planners as committee member.
According to the Friday Gazette notice, Ms Sylvia Kasanga will represent architects, Mr Gitu Kahengeri (lawyers), Mr Zachary Ng’ang’a (Urban Areas and Cities), Mr T.G Ndorongo (planners), Ms Jeanter Warigia (accountants), Mr Julius Macharia (Surveyors) and Ms Cecilia Mwangi to represent business community.
In the notice, the governor said the committee’s mandate will be “to consider and determine that Municipality of Thika meets the requisite criteria of classification as a city, advise and make recommendations for the conferment of City status to the Municipality of Thika.”
Thika whose location makes it the gateway to Mt Kenya, part Eastern and North Eastern regions,  is considered one of the fastest-growing towns in Kenya due to the numerous industries, learning institutions which includes Mt Kenya University and Gretsa University, and well-laid transport and communication systems, which improved its economic growth and population to over 500, 000 people.
According to the Governor, once upgraded to a city, Thika will attract grants of approximately Sh1 billion per year for infrastructural development, including road tarmacking, drainage, street lighting, water connectivity, and a sewerage system, among other things.
“Upon attaining city status, Thika will experience substantial benefits, including infrastructural development, improved social standards, economic growth through the establishment of new businesses, increased property values, and economic empowerment via a 24-hour economy.
This elevation will enhance the County’s international visibility, opening doors for various opportunities and collaborations on the global stage. That is why I have set my sights on achieving this,” Mr Wamatangi said.
The governor said projects to give Thika befitting city status were in motion. These include the proposed dualling of a section of Thika-Garrisa road and increasing water capacity at Sh5.7 billion, which he successfully lobbied for during a meeting with the president on October 23, 2022, at the State House.
Also on the list is the Economic Processing Zone (EPZ), which has already been gazetted after Mr Wamatangi set aside 324 acres of the ceded Delmote Land, 25,000 affordable housing units, an international-standard stadium whose first phase is underway, markets and hospitals.
The County has also partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to manage waste better at the Kang’oki dumpsite that adopts inventive semi-aerobic landfill techniques.
Further, according to County Executive Committee Member of Housing, Planning, and Urban Development Salome Wainaina, the county upgrading the Kiandutu informal settlement, which has since been renamed Diaspora.
Ms Muthoni said the County had set aside Sh150 million for the infrastructure projects in the area, which include bitumen-standard roads, walkways, a social hall, drainage, high-mast floodlights, and 5,000 title deeds for residents living in the settlement.
Mr Martin Kagiri, the County Director of Municipal Partnerships and Coordination of Urban Areas, said data on social and physical infrastructure, revenue generation, land use, population, and development control have already been gathered, putting the process of making Thika a city at 60 per cent.
Following the committee’s creation, Mr Kangiri said, the county would begin public participation, write a report, and then draft a charter and an integrated development plan to be presented to the County Assembly for approval.
“Upon approval by the County Assembly, the report will be presented to the Senate for deliberation and adoption, with subsequent submission to President William Ruto for the designation of Thika town as a Smart City,” Mr Kagiri said.