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DG Nyoro, MP and TDBA set stage for spatial plan for “THE THIKA WE WANT”.

Thika traders under Thika District Business Association (TDBA) on Thursday met Kiambu Deputy Governor James Nyoro to set stage for “THE THIKA WE WANT”; a spatial integrated development plan that will define the town’s future social and economic development programme.

In a forum that took more than six hours, the participants identified some of the major challenges affecting businesses in the area and resolved there was need for integrated, multi-sectoral planning approaches to solving most of these problems.

The traders noted that one of the main causes of the mess in Thika town was distorted priorities brought about by leaders who never put into account stakeholders' input in seeking solutions due to vested interests.

Some of the problematic areas identified included the perennial hawker menace, unplanned town transport sector, traffic jams, lack of enough parking space, poor waste management, perennial water shortages and challenges in building plans approvals.

Others included rampant grabbing of land set aside for public amenities, lack of inclusivity in governance due to favouritism in appointments among myriads of other issues.

Speaking on behalf of the traders, TDBA Chairman Alfred Wanyoike said that there was need for a more multi-sectoral approach to solutions with residents taking centre stage in identifying their own priorities and customised solutions to their own challenges.

He added that unplanned urbanisation had led to stagnation of the town’s business development, pollution, congestion, insecurity and other far-reaching consequences that were scaring away potential investors.

On behalf of the area MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina who is abroad on an official trip, Personal Assistant John Mwangi Njuguna said that their office was ready to work with the county government to spar growth and seek solutions to the challenges facing the town.

He appealed to all stakeholders to join hands and support this initiative adding that with everyone on board, ‘these things were doable’.

Responding to the business community’s concerns, DG James Nyoro said that the solution to returning Thika to its lost glory lay squarely on restoration of order in the way policies were implemented as well as adherence to the rule of law.

“Devolution is about making it easy for government to offer services to its people and depoliticising issues. This is a new beginning. We need to map out where we are and where we want to go. From that point, we will be marking what we achieve on a daily basis until we get to where we want to be,” he said.

Nyoro said that before the end of the year, he would come back and present for debate, concrete suggestions on the Thika’s master plan for the next 20-30 years.

Among the problems the DG noted that needed to be addressed immediately included the issue of hawkers and illegal structures within the CBD, traffic jams, the uncoordinated public transport system within the town, waste management and the problem of building approvals.

“We will invest on model kiosks and identify areas where we shall put them. Before that, we need to come up with other solutions that will be favourable to both the hawkers and those in formal businesses. We will also set aside an area where those selling foodstuff shall be operating from as we shall no longer allow food hawking due to the health risks involved,” explained Nyoro.

The DG warned that the county government would repossess all grabbed public lands to create space for the hawkers and car parks.

“We need to take an inventory of all grabbed land in Thika so that we can clean all this mess. Starting next week, we will begin sealing potholes within the town as we budget for resurfacing of all the roads within the CBD,” he added.

He added that they would soon start lighting up the town and partner with other government agencies to improve on infrastructure as well as installing CCTV cameras on strategic locations for proper monitoring of the security situation in the town.

Others who made their contributions included MCAs Andrew Kimani (Township) and Raphael Chege Waithumbi (Kamenu).

In attendance were representatives from TDBA, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), hoteliers, real estate agents, leaders from the public transport sector and hawkers among others.

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