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Machakos county allocates land to New City project investors

The county government of Machakos has begun issuing allotment letters to dozens of investors who had expressed interest in developing the proposed New Machakos City. Details emerging from the county’s leadership indicate that plans to jumpstart the Sh1.5 trillion investment are in top gear, and it is set to be actualised by 2020.

Governor Alfred Mutua says the mega project, expected to occupy about 4,000 acres, will commence soon.“We are in the process of preparing allotment letters to investors who have expressed interest in setting shop in the New City,” said Dr Mutua. According to the county’s Lands department, some 1,400 acres of land have already been surveyed and beacons placed.

The New City take-off is set to accelerate economic growth in Machakos town, once the Kenyan capital during colonial days. Following collapse of an election petition that challenged election of Dr Mutua last week, the Maendeleo Chap Chap party leader appears keen on actualising his dream that was stalled by litigations over the past four years.

“But we are happy to report that by end of 2017, the High Court dismissed a suit by some local politicians who were not happy with this transformative agenda. We are now signing MoU’S with investors who at first were scared by the hostile political environment,” Dr Mutua said. Former Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama wanted the Machakos county government stopped from giving out free land to the investors.

Being the senator, Muthama insisited he was a custodian of the public and the City could not be built without consultations. In defence, the Machakos government said it will only lease the land to investors, which will benefit even the future generations instead of lying idle.

Further, the county government maintained that all the due process of leasing the land to investors was being followed. High Court Judge, Justice George Odunga directed the county government to go ahead with investment plans, but in conformity of the law and principles of sustainable development. Muthama has since then been sponsoring a farmers group to file legal suits claiming some sections of the expansive land.

However, a joint task force formed by Governor Mutua drawing its membership from the local community, Kiima Kimwe Farmers and government representatives has settled the matter. The locals are now part of the vision and are set to benefit from the project. Economic pundits believe the New City will form the axis of economic development by attracting more investors and spicing up inter-regional trade.

Machakos borders the capital city, Nairobi to the south east, Kitui county to the north and Kajiado county to the south. It is one of the country’s metropolitan regions, with a cosmopolitan formation. Given projected foreign investments of over Sh1.5 trillion, the New City will be the bedrock of employment and wealth creation in the county.

“The project will be a reality in the next two years— with industries and even a Formula One track, the only one of its kind in Africa,” Dr Mutua said. The city, whose design includes a central business park, will also host dozens of other urban amenities recreational park and government offices.

It will have community facilities, an area reserved for educational facilities, a mix of low-, medium- and high-density residential areas and an industrial park. The Master Plan has also provided for a fully fledged sports complex, tourism and conferencing belt.

The city, when complete, is expected to host several modern shopping malls, big hotels and lodges, a man made lake, highrise and low rise commercial office buildings. In the service provision, a number of local and international investors are set to invest in medical sector, placing the city in the global medical tourism.

So far, specialist hospitals in India, Japan and Nairobi Hospital have expressed an interest in investing in the project, easing the burden of flying cancer patients abroad.The project will be a blessing to the real estate sector because of an expected increased demand for houses for construction workers. Welcoming the move, the immediate former Mayor of Machakos municipal council, Timothy Kilonzo, said the site of the proposed city has been idle for decades and it will help decongest Machakos town.

“There is nothing wrong with putting up the new city on the idle land; our town is too congested because of an increasing population unlike the years we had a municipality,” said Kilonzo. The former mayor, now a real estate investor, said the new city will be the dormitory of the capital city of Nairobi and will accelerate economic growth in the region. He told off a section of Ukambani politicians opposed to the multi-billion investment.

Wambua Kilonzo, director at Kyaka Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Machakos town, hailed Governor Mutua for the project, saying it will expose the county to the world. He urged the governor to consider allocating Machakos-based entrepreneurs parcels of land to expand their businesses and have a stake in the new town. A quick scan of social media reveals mixed reactions to the project.

“This is so unnecessary, kuna underdevelopment in some parts of your county na utawaste pesa za umma hivi…. No man, priorities matter,” wrote Hippie Brown on a Facebook comment. Winnie Mutua wrote, “Good of you our Governor…everything is possible even that plan of machakos new city.

May God show you the way through”. In November 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the city, paying glowing tribute to the governor. “Let me take this early opportunity to commend Dr Mutua for coming up with this noble idea. I encourage the other county governors to borrow a leaf from Machakos county and focus on economic development,” said the President. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,” he added.

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