This is my free advice to Governor Obado on how to end congestion in Migori town

Migori town at the buspark

Migori town at the buspark

By Arthur Orangi

Migori County is a great county and so is Migori Town and the other urban areas of Rongo,
Awendo, Isebania, Uriri, Kehancha and Nyatike/Sori.

My main concern is Migori town, more especially because it is the administrative and to
some extent economic capital of the County.

Built along the trans-African highway, it acts as a gateway to most Southern African nations especially, if say; you have to go by road. It has a river flowing through it which provides opportunities in terms of sand mining, energy and water production, environmental conservation and aesthetics among others.

The land is fertile in the peri urban areas of Nyabisawa, Osingo, Mapera, Witharaga, God Jope, Bondo areas with a weather that is agriculturally favourable and therefore, if well invested in, the town can be self reliant in terms of food security.

The proximity of the town to the Lake Victoria, the Maasai Mara and Thim Lich Ohinga is a plus for the town in an effort to boost the tourism and hospitality industry in the town.

The devolved system offers us the opportunity of growth and development. (Note that the best way to measure development is by gauging how much the welfare of the people is improving).

The population is great! Fairly educated and trained and skilled and if properly harnessed then prosperity will come our way.

Whatever is done to ensure growth and development is not the reason for this paper but WHERE AND HOW this takes place.

Taking note that all human activities take place on space/land, which is scarce and fixed, it is important to have well thought out and professionally informed plans to ensure that this resource is properly organized and utilized.

This therefore raises two pertinent questions.

1. What has been the trend of Physical planning in Migori Town and the County in General? And
how is it now?

2. How efficient has the regulation and control of physical development in the town been?? And how is it now?

To answer these two questions, let us have a preview of the legal and policy provisions on this
subject (Physical Planning):

• The constitution in Article 42 (1) states that every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment. Article 60. (1) states that Land in Kenya shall be held, used and managed in a manner that is equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable, and in accordance with the land policy principles.

• Physical Planning Act Cap 286 forms the main legal framework which guides the process, content and the approval of the plans both long term and short-term plans which include Action plans and zoning plans among others.

The Physical planning office is given authority to prohibit or control the use and development of
land and buildings in the interests of proper and orderly development of its area; Under the Act no land subdivision or development may take place without the approval of the responsible authority.

• The County Government Act, 2012 Gives effect the objects and principles of devolution as set out in Articles 174 and 175 of the Constitution of Kenya which among other things include The county planning framework integrating economic physical, social, environmental and spatial planning and that County plans shall be binding on all sub-county units for developmental activities within a County.

• Other provisions are in urban areas and Cities Act of 2011, Land Act 2012, EMCA of 1999, the Survey Act CAP 299 and also the physical Planning Handbook which details the specific standards for ANY form of development.

Let us get back to our questions. The first about the trend; The only plan that was ever well prepared and approved by the Director of Physical planning according the guidelines then, was in 1980 and was approved by the director of physical planning(Ministry of Lands headquarters) as was required by law. T

This was subsequently reviewed in 2004, 2007, and 2010 and most recently in 2012(the subsequent ones were never approved). This is not a bad trend if you ask me.

In my professional opinion I can confirm that the plans are good and the revision trend is not that bad except for that period between 1980 and 2004.

How is it now? Well, the County government is preparing Integrated Strategic Urban Development Plans for five of its major urban areas, i.e. Migori, Rongo, Awendo, Isebania and Sori.

This is a very good step towards having orderly towns however; the second question waters down on the positives.
To our second question; how efficient has the regulation and control of physical development in the town??

Well, if we are talking about implementation, monitoring and evaluation then in my opinion, it has been PATHETIC.
In the previous dispensation we had local authorities in charge of Physical planning. There was the Physical planning committee(constituted by the councilors) that was in charge of managing public land on behalf of the citizens and regulating developments.

They allocated land indiscriminately to their well connected friends with the long lasting effects being exhibited in the parcel of land that was once a sisal factory just opposite Gilly Hotel that is a matter of contention to date.

They were to be advised professionally by the Director of Planning through the District Physical Planning Officer. The office was so much neglected and was merely ceremonial or in most cases the officers themselves were so rogue as to collude with these committees to abet these malpractices.

The other development regulation problem is on the highway. This road is a Class A1 road and initially had a standard road reserve of 60 meters as in the case for all Class A roads.

Whatever happened to that road reserve is a mystery.

The road reserve is properly preserved as you enter the town from Kakrao through Banana area, Posta up to the River.

Whatever happened in that part between the river and Migori TTC is a topic for another day. Have we posed to ask why it is 30 meters or less on this part and not 60 meters?

The office in charge of regulating small scale trade in the town has also done a lot of disservice
to the highway.

They have issued out licenses to traders to set up containers and put up informal structures along the highway without minding the consequences.

These misgivings have led to the persistent problem of traffic congestion and conflicts within the town centre.
This not only consumes a lot of time in travel but has led to a lot of accidents hence injury to property and humans and sometimes loss of life.

How are we going to ensure that Migori Town does not end up being a chaotic town?

1. We have to take a BOLD step to relocate ALL forms of informal activities and structures from
the highway/road reserve and do it appropriately.

2. We MUST ensure that all new buildings that are coming up in town are according to laid down standards. These should also ensure that we have buildings that ensure proper utilization of space especially in the Towns “CBD”.

3. We must properly plan the market to ensure its proper uterlistion. Alongside the market, the town must take a bold step to have a parking plan more especially a central park will work to
eliminate vehicles from the highway.

Additionally, there should be loading/offloading zones from the rear of businesses to eliminate large trucks from the highway.

4. We must as residents of Migori Town agree that in the long term, the county and national
government should partner to relocate Kenya Prisons, Migori to Its Lichota farm land. It is and
will be more inappropriate to have a prison in the town centre. That land can be used for a more appropriate function.

5. The residents must accept to adhere to the standards and let go of their selfish interests in the short term. We must realize that Migori town is for us but more so for the future generations and therefore the SUSTAINABILITY of the town should be our PRIORITY.

This should also be done also by the political class. They should stop playing politics with issues of planning and development. Reclamation of all grabbed land should be immediate and uniform without fear or favor.

6. Finally, The County Government has to empower the planning office (I am told the office
has not had an officer in that office since September 2015.

I don’t know how that is possible? And if it is so, it is only prudent that the County Public Service Board hires them.

The department should at minimum have 3 officers at the County office and 1 for each Sub County.

There should also be a technician in each of these offices. Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret have effective planning departments.

Closer home is Kisumu and Kisii which if well emulated; we will be on the way to our dream town/ towns/ county. Otherwise all concerted efforts to have a great town and county will be Vanity.