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Kisumu slips back on House Planning

Ten year ago the city of Kisumu was on a serious restructure mode, various plans had been lined up implementation.

From rerouting of traffic, Sustainable urban mobility for BodaBoda,zoning of the city,implementation of town house policy towards a 24 hour economy, construction of modern markets and modern solid waste management all is facing gloom as politics, weak implementation and enforcement teams up to kill the master plan.

Resident’s blame corruption for the lacklustre approach towards the planning and development of the city while city chiefs are in blame game over who is responsible for the mess.

Whereas the city planning department successfully managed to reroute the traffic and create space viable for commercial premises, the mess is back and Motorbikes and Matatus rides in town with impunity as city law enforcer’s watch.

The policy to have the town run 24 hours a day by restricting the construction of both commercial and residential premises within the central business district have all gone to drain, those who have business that can run late at night have been forced to close as their neighbours residing in the city complain of noise.

The zoning and demarcating of certain estates as high-rise, bungalow, commercial, condominiums and flats are all falling flat on their bellies as buildings haphazardly come up along with illegal makeshift extension in areas designed for high end residential property.

Makeshift extension are fast becoming a norm in the city housing sector even as city council desist from cracking the whip for fear of causing unrest in the city. Kisumu city mayor Sam Okello says the city is in its path of growth but locals say it is farfetched especially with weak policies.

“How can the council keep on reneging on its plans to give way for popular views, change must come at a price and whenever it does some people must suffer”, says Kisumu city resident voice association chairman Audi Ogada.

He says the city has a good concept of planning and has twined with various cities to help in developing its master plan under the South-South, East-East Corporation but it has never gone beyond the paper.

The city is in a planning dilemma and need more to walk its talk on planning, we expect them to dialogue with residents and tell them on the need of planning otherwise the city will be a dream”, says Audi.

Kisumu city currently has more than four active twin cities that in reality it should be sharing planning and development agenda, they include Roanoke, Boulder in Colorado, Tongi and Porsgum in Sweden. However, in comparison the city of Kisumu is far from coming to par with its twin sisters.

“what is the role of this twinning ,we have Juakali areas, other zoning have also taken place and designs are available on what should be put up but implementation is very weak,we have Juakali everywhere people are still being buried in estate even though we have cemetery”, says Audi.

He however spell doom for the city if the trend continue saying due to poor planning the city has not been able to attract investors and even tourist.

Audi however blames both the ministry of local government for posting weak officers however blames weak enforcement to the fall in Kisumu city planning. He says the collapse of the city infrastructural and social structure goes beyond the planning but also implementation.

“The good design we have are work of the planning department but you can still find pathetic drainage, solid waste management that has attracted so much from donors is yet to be realised, traffic is a mess and even road signs are not even followed, this is because the council cannot enforce its own laws”, says Audi.

Kisumu city recently received a Sh4 Billion grant to upgrade it social structure, solid waste management and general planning but nothing is going on the ground.

Audi sentiments are shared by real estate developer and consultant Habil Onyanyo who says real plan is only available in the books but not on practicality.

The city has very good plan, while they have successfully zoned the city, there is no follow up to ensure that plans are adhered to, one can get approval for a mansion and ends up constructing flats”, says Onyango.

Onyango says plans to restructure city transport network have all failed and even building of modern markets is fast coming into a dream ten years after they were laid down as part of the council five year strategic plan. Part of the plan was to demolish all old houses to pave way for modern high rise buildings in areas zoned for residential development.

More than 98 buildings were identified for demolition especially within the central business district and middle level estates to pave way for modern buildings and high-rise flats.

There has been conflict between those council chiefs and civic leaders over the implementation of the plans, Recently the council demolished over 500 kiosks erected inside the CBD on a temporary allocation letter from the council clerk. The demolition caused uproar and difference among the opponents and the proponents of the project to have Kiosk back in Town.

Aware of this trend, the mayor on tour of the city estate gave directive to have sprouting Kiosk and makeshift structure demolished an issue which is yet to be implemented. The mayor blames some chief officers in the council for contributing into the city planning menace.


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