I love spending my afternoons either enjoying the nice weather while going through my socials or doing physical activities, either going for a bike ride or an afternoon run. Today I’m sitting under a tree writing this piece. (Thinking of ways to impress you guys with this intimate story about my home town😂) I always think to myself, how lucky I’m I to call such a place home. mainly coz of the weather especially around this harvesting times.(The weather here is priceless)
You remember writing in your compositions that “I was woken up by the chirping of the birds(and all kind of environment descriptions)” this is literally the place you were talking about😂. And if you’ve happened to visit this place, during this time or call this place home you probably understand what I’m talking about. Every time I come home after a long time I’m always hit with the same feels of good vibes and peacefulness. At my age I still get homesick and just yearn to come home, It will always remain my best option if I need a getaway place from anything.
I can go on and on about how I love this place, forgetting that this blog is on urban issues, I just felt the need to express my home passionate love in an urban setting blog. I remember writing on my introduction post that I will be writing about my experiences of towns and cities I have interests in or ones that I have happened to visit. I just thought to myself why not start with my hometown. Plus, a good friend asked me to write about it,and it was a good idea since I’m able to report things I have one on one experience with.
I remember telling him there’s almost no interesting thing about the town, from its planning to the services to everything. But this is me trying to be charitable about it (Being nice and viewing something in the best light, simply finding 70 reasons why that particular thing is amazing or excusing the way it is)
But chill ain’t going to highlight 70 coz I’ll be stuck on the 5th or at most the 10th. I’ll highlight the myths, misconceptions, and facts associated with the place. Coz I have interacted with friends who happened not to know if this town even exits… so most time I’m hit with where is that? (and it’s always heartbreaking to find out someone doesn’t know about this place) I’ll answer all of your questions about Kitale in this post, or rather take you on to a virtual tour of Kitale Town. But I welcome your contribution, especially for people who’ve visited the town.This is a safe space for all of your urban issues.
The town serves as the administrative and commercial capital of Trans Nzoia County, also a frontier town of the northern part of Kenya. It is situated between Mt. Elgon and Cherang’any Hills. The place is generally gorgeous mostly coz its physical properties. You’ll be welcomed on your entrance to town with the amazing trail of trees along the roads, be it on Eldoret-Kitale highway, Webuye -Kitale road, or Kapenguria – Kitale road. The county government has really tried conserving those trees coz they really are old. Those trees contribute positively to the serene feels of the town. And it’s an amazing feeling entering the town especially if you are a first-timer in that town.
Most people assume that majority of the population that lives in Kitale belongs to The Luhya ethnic group, but surprise! surprise! Kitale is a Cosmopolitan region of tribes. But Ugali remains the staple food due to the availability of cornflour.
If you are looking for a cheaper place to stay, then Kitale should top your list. Houses are affordable compared to other towns. plus, food around the region is in plenty, Hence the name “the cereal basket of Kenya”. Most residents of the town are farmers mostly of maize, wheat, beans, potatoes, dairy products, you name it. The rich soil types, high altitudes with a fair gradient topography, and above all the favourable weather patterns around the region is the region’s biggest asset to the growth of a lot of crops. (Agricultural town)
You literally can’t walk anywhere around the region without you spotting a vast field of maize plantation. People are generally homely and ready to help anyone, including strangers. I don’t know a lot about the crime rate within the urban setting, what I know is, my phone is safer in this town compared to any other town in the country😂.
The best things about the region are located outside towns. Places to visit while you are around the region include:
- Mt Elgon National Park (I love this place coz of the caves, hikes, and home of different wild animals)
- Saiwa Swamp National park.
- Kitale Museum.
- Kitale Nature Conservancy( Ndura Park)
- Treasures of Africa Museum
- Cherang’any Hill ranges( I recommend the orange sunset view from the south of the town, just marvelous)
Although the town has a slow growth rate, some of the recent and ongoing transformation in Kitale includes. (Most of them have websites for each development)
- The Interchange as you enter CBD from Eldoret.
- The Kitale bus park.
- Kitale Market.
- Trans Nzoia Teaching and referral hospital.
- Amagoro Park.
- The glass façade structures in CBD: One tanna tower ,Tuskeys building (almost closed) and Yes Plaza (young adults love it here) All this situated along Kenyatta street making the street among the busiest streets. Also the availability of chain stores and chain banks along the street make the streets busy. Line Moja street, another busy street: Being the main entrance of the town from different parts of the region and also host of major bus, matatus and railway terminal. The street also hosts a lot of business stalls, informal industries (jua kali industry), second hand clothes, bus and matatu terminals and railway terminal.
The town is generally poorly planned and maintained hence majority of the urban problems. Kitale town has linear pattern growth, urban development growing along major roads. Main urban issues include:
- Poor accessibility and transportation links: The town has poor road surfaces with no space designated for pedestrians. non-functional railway lines despite the majority of the population depend on public means of transport which are unreliable. Most roads don’t meet the urban setting standards.
- Traffic congestion in CBD especially peak hours: inadequate parking spaces and unorganized public transport especially on matatus, taxis tuktuk, and bodabodas.
- Poor management of solid waste: undesignated dumping areas in CBD, almost no litter bins around the town
Encroachment of road reserves by motorists and, more so boda-boda riders: This is the kind of town you can’t apply the crossing road knowledge (look right, left, and right again) that we were taught in primary school.
- Almost no stormwater drainage infrastructure.
- The town has inadequate green space.
- Inadequate market and industrial facilities: Traders and Jua kali industry are congested along Laini Moja streets, leading to others taking to sell at the streets of CBD inconveniencing traders.
- Inadequate higher institution facilities: Most residents relocate to other towns in search of higher learning which is a letdown coz the town is rich in the best performing mission highschools.
- Inadequate terminal facilities for buses and matatus
- Inadequate street lighting: some parts in CBD are poorly lit at night
- The town lacks a land-use plan to control housing development: hence informal settlement in areas like Kipsongo, Shimo la Tewa, and Tiwani.
These are just a few observable problems around the urban area. Going into the rural part of the region major problems are Inaccessible roads during wet seasons and 60% of the population in the region live below the poverty line. We really need to rethink the planning incentives of the town. If no planning action will be taken, the town will have no defined direction growth which will create more urban problems including shrinking of the agricultural land. Some of the solution to curb the urban problem in Kitale:
- The governance of the region has a huge impact on how the town will look like in the future. Good governance will enhance the effectiveness of the town and municipal planning.
- We need to create a well-planned and functional municipality that will create an investor-friendly environment and aid in its growth. This will increase the economic vibrancy which will in turn create more job opportunities hence improve the living standards of the people in the region
- Being an agricultural town, it can be structured by various development concepts, Including the Concentric zone model, The garden city model, or sector model. This will give the town a more structured growth that can be controlled.
- Have environment policies that prevents encroachment of conserved areas.
- Increase the local access to quality higher education and training: This will foster a more informed and creative society
- Improve transport links to town: Provision of a better transport system, and road infrastructure, revitalize rail transit.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.