Urban Areas and Cities Planning Act, 2011 (Implementation) - Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI HQ)

County Governments have been struggling with planning, management and governance of urban areas and cities. Most counties have responded by attempting to raise more revenue by increasing levies, fees and charges to businesses and residents hoping to meet the cost of delivering the required services in urban areas.

According to various press articles, County governments have been unable to deliver effective services due to various challenges including lack of clarity on their role; misplaced priorities; political wrangles; corruption; incapability of county staff; ill-equipped leadership; lack of transparency and governance. 

To address the above, KNCCI saw the need to pursue the implementation of the Urban Areas and Cities (UAC), Act 2011 which gives effect to Article 184 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Article 184 states that National Legislation shall be enacted to provide for the governance and management of urban areas and cities.

The UAC Act provides for: the classification, governance and management of urban areas and cities; the criteria for establishing urban areas and; the principle of governance and participation of residents in the governance of urban areas and cities. If implemented, this Act would create the legal basis under which counties deliver services to city and municipality businesses and residents.

The UAC Act, 2011 establishes Boards of municipalities and cities to whom the county may delegate authority to carry out various functions specified in the Act. Some of the functions and powers of these Boards include:

  • Ensure service provision to the residents of the cities or municipalities;
  • Impose fees, levies and charges as may be authorised by the county government for the delivery of services;
  • Make by-laws or make recommendations to be included in by-laws;
  • Developing and adopting policies, plans, strategies and programmes, and may set targets for delivery of services
  • Control land use, land sub-division, land development and zoning by public and private sectors for any purpose, including industry, commerce, markets, shopping and other employment centres, residential areas, recreational areas, parks, entertainment, passenger transport, agriculture, and freight and transit stations within the framework of the spatial and master plans for the city or municipality as may be delegated by the county government;
  • Oversee the affairs of the cities or municipalities;
  • Lastly, Boards are expected to ensure participation of the residents in decision making as well as in their (the Boards) activities and programmes through citizen fora.

A survey conducted by KNCCI HQ in 12 counties showed that only three counties have formed cities/municipalities Boards i.e. Kisumu, Meru and Kirinyaga. In these three counties, the respective county chambers have been nominated to sit in the Boards of cities or municipalities. However, none of these Boards was operational.

KNCCI HQ seeks to support the three county chambers where there has been accepted by governors to form these Boards to have operational city and municipality Boards.

KNCCI posits that functional Boards (comprised of six competitively recruited members and five private sector representatives) would improve not only service delivery, but the overall planning, management and governance of city and municipality affairs.

Expected Outcome

That three counties will have functional city and municipality Boards. That these Boards will have the representation of private sector, will be funded, and will have functions delegated to them by the County Government. It is expected that this will lead to:

  • Improved planning of cities and urban areas;
  • Improved project implementation as the Boards will serve to oversee city and municipality affairs;
  • Inclusion of BMOs in: the design of by-laws affecting cities and urban areas, development of integrated plans; controlled development; introduction of fees, levies and charges to be passed on to businesses; and ultimately service delivery by the county to the businesses and residents of the cities and municipalities so that the business community is not negatively affected by county decisions.