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Good News For Real Estate Developers, Farmers In Kiambu County.

It will now take a maximum of 14 days to clear building applications that, for the past many years, have delayed construction in Kiambu County.

This was revealed by Governor William Kabogo during his ‘State of The County’ address at the Assembly's Chambers in Kiambu.

Kabogo said that his government will in the next fiscal year focus on housing development that had hitherto been grossly mismanaged.  To achieve this, one of the key priorities has been to conduct a comprehensive audit of poorly developed buildings in selected areas of the county and the issuance of directives on how to rectify these situations.

“We have been able to speed up the delivery of services to a level that is yet to be surpassed by any other county. As I speak with you today, we have cleared all the back log of, with all minor applications comprising of Bungalows and Maissonettes due for clearance within 14 days,” said Governor Kabogo.

He added that the county government had partnered with other Non-Governmental Agencies and embarked on an informal settlements improvement programme, through which two informal settlements - Gachagi and Umoja estates will undergo various infrastructure upgrades that will include roadworks and street lighting. In addition, Kiambu was in the process of finalising a robust Housing Policy and urban renewal models as well as procedures to regularize old developments that were not compliant with planning regulations.

The housing department has also prepared a Spatial Plan through a consultative process that identifies the county’s resource bases and their potential as a basis for urban development through the integration between sectors such as housing, transport, energy and industry. To give effect to these policies, a set of bills governing Spatial-planning Bill, Survey and mapping Bill are currently under development and will soon be tabled before you for debate.

“We firmly believe in embracing technology, especially technology that leads to smart outcomes. We plan to digitise all land records and review our valuation roll to include areas previously omitted by the defunct local authorities,” he said.

The County Government has also signed an Advisory Agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to automate the E-Development System. This web-based system will improve the capacity to receive and process all development or building plan applications in an efficient and transparent manner.

On the road infrastructural development, the county has embarked on a robust road network improvement within a county to make it cheap and efficient to move goods and services. They have rehabilitated approximately 1400km of rural access roads and initiated the construction of new and modern roads in various parts of the County.

“In the coming year, we have budgeted for the conversion of certain single carriageways into dual carriageways; and the construction of several motorable bridges, pedestrian paths and bus parks in various parts of the County,” said Kabogo.

The county government has installed 275 street lights using 80Watt energy saving LED across seven urban centres in the County with the installation of over 70 high masts using 200 Watt LED currently ongoing. These installations, whose cumulative effect is the reduction of power bills by almost 50%, have been strategically located in shopping centres, market centres, hospitals, schools, informal settlements and police stations with the aim of increasing security across the county, extending learning hours for school children and trading hours for local businessmen.

Kabogo further said that his administration continued to maintain and repair the existing 139 High Masts and 3,300 street lights across the county to ensure improved lighting for, and enhanced safety of, Kiambu residents.

Fire safety and rescue has also had its share of investment. The county government has increased their fire engine fleet by a further 5 trucks and are in the process of constructing three 24hr fire stations in Githunguri, Limuru, Thika, Kiambaa and Ruiru Sub-Counties.

In the Agriculture sector, Kabogo said that his administration had employed various initiatives to address the perennial challenges facing this sector.

“We have identified specific sectors requiring urgent farmer empowerment. These include, greenhouse farming, macadamia and avocado grafting, fish farming, bee keeping, tissue culture, and banana and rabbit production. To ensure our farmers excel in these target sectors, we have rolled out several training programmes,” he said.

He added that over 3,500 farmers had been trained on agronomic practices of crop management, 1,000 farmers trained on banana production, more than 3000 farmers trained on rabbit rearing, a further 200 farmers trained in the cottage industry and many more training opportunities being made available to farmers with a view to enhancing their capacity to engage in vibrant and sustainable agricultural practices. He said that they had also focused their efforts on revamping promising sub-sectors.

“As you are aware, Kiambu County produces not only the highest amount of rabbit meat in Kenya (107.8 MT in 2014) but is also the highest milk-producer with 800 million litres of milk produced in 2015. Yet our potential to soar to greater heights has remained untapped. We have therefore embarked on deliberate activities to bolster production in both subsectors. In this regard, we have purchased a meat processor worth 3 million and rehabilitated the rabbit slaughter house. Additionally, we have installed 8 bulk milk coolers with a combined capacity of 22,000 litres and 1 Pasteurizer of 500 litres per hour capacity to serve our farmers.”

He added that even though hides, skins & leather development remained one of the key investment areas for the country with Kenya currently earning approximately Ksh 9 Billion from this sector, only about 2.5% of this could be attributable to Kiambu County.  It was for this reason that they had invested in the training of cobblers with the hope that they will be able to tap into the opportunities in the higher spectrum of the leather value chain and increase the production of finished leather goods thereby increasing our competitiveness in this industry.

Access to quality seeds and farm inputs is at the core of ensuring small holder farmer success through increased yields. To this end, the County Government has invested in the purchase and distribution of seeds such as legume seeds of cowpeas, beans and green grams worth 4m distributed to 2000 farmers in the lower region of Thika, Juja and Ruiru Sub-Counties. Planting seed, fertiliser, training on rearing of dairy goats and indigenous chicken worth 11 million have also been supplied to over 8,000 vulnerable families in arid and semi-arid areas of Kikuyu and Limuru.

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