An Overview of the Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment ) Bill, 2017

Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill, 2017

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011 in order to review the criteria provided for classifying an area as a city, municipality, town or market centre. The review was necessary since the criteria provided in the Act are not achievable by the county governments under the prevailing circumstances unless the law is amended.

The Bill amends two definitions:

  • City County- a county that is also a city
  • Urban Area- municipality, a town or a market centre

It introduces two new definitions; neighbourhood association is defined as a registered cluster of residents groupings actively representing the interests of a recognized constituency of urban citizens within the defined urban jurisdiction. A resident population means the core-urban and peri-urban population of urban area/city according to the final gazetted results of the last population census carried out by any institution authorized under any written law.

Delineation of the Boundaries of Urban Areas or Cities

This may be initiated by the Cabinet Secretary or by the relevant county government making a written request to the Cabinet Secretary to appoint an ad hoc committee. The Cabinet Secretary upon receiving such a request, or if he considers it necessary, will then appoint an ad hoc committee. This will be done via notice in the Kenya Gazette and they will delineate the boundaries of an urban area or a city.

The committee will constitute of a representative of the IEBC; 3 representatives from the National government from the Ministries of Urban Development, Environment and Agriculture; 3 representatives from the county government from the Departments of Urban Development, Environment and Agriculture; and 2 representatives from the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya and Kenya Institute of Planners.


Criteria for Classifying an Area as:

  1. A city

The Bill proposes to reduce the number of the resident population required for a city from 500, 000 to 250,000 resident population.

  1. A municipality

It has a resident population of at least 50,000 residents, has an integrated urban area development plan, has the capacity to effectively & efficiently deliver its services to its residents and has in existence services provided under the First Schedule. It should also have a demonstrable good system and records of prudent management.

It is important to note that every headquarters of a county government shall be conferred the status of a municipality, whether or not it meets the criteria of a municipality.

  1. A market centre

The county governors have been given the mandate to confer the status of a market centre on specific areas. These areas must have a resident population of at least 2,000 residents and has an integrated urban area development plan that is in line with the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

The management of a market centre is vested in the county government.


Structure and Management of Cities and Municipalities

  1. City Board

The members of the Board of a city shall be the County Executive Committee Member for cities & urban area, 6 members who are competitively appointed by the governor (and with the approval of the County Assembly) and 4 members who nominated by an umbrella body representing professional associations in the area, an association representing the private sector in the area, a cluster representing registered associations in the informal sector in the area and a cluster representing registered neighbourhood associations in the area.

  1. Municipality Board

It will have 9 members. They will consist of the County Executive Committee member for cities and urban areas; 4 members appointed by the County Governor (and with the approval of the County Assembly); 4 members nominated by the County Governor; Chief Officer responsible for urban development and the Municipal Manager. The Municipal Manager will be the secretary of the Board and will be an ex officio member.


Governance and Management of Towns

Management of a town shall be vested in a town committee comprised of 5 members. These are the County Executive Committee member for urban areas and cities, 2 members competitively appointed by the Governor, a cluster represented registered associations of the informal sector and a cluster representing the business community.


Establishment of an Administrator

There shall be an administrator for every town who shall be appointed by the County Public Service Board. He/she shall perform such functions as the town committee may determine. For one to be an administrator, one should hold a degree from a university recognized in Kenya, have proven experience of at least 3 years in administration/management in either the public or private sector, be a citizen of Kenya and satisfy the requirements as set out in Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.

This article was written by
Sylvia Katua of Mzalendo Trust .
It was published on Dec. 1, 2017.


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