The Nakuru transformation
The transformation of Nakuru since 2010: nearly 60% building growth and a rising middle class
Nakuru is a cosmopolitan town, and the headquarters of the fourth largest county in Kenya, after Kiambu, Kakamega and Nairobi. Nakuru is world renowned for its eponymous saline water lake (Lake Nakuru) which is home to the world’s largest concentration of flamingos. A few years ago, it was also crowned the cleanest city in Kenya and the UN has in the past described it as the fastest growing town in Africa.
Nakuru has a special place in Kenya’s colonial lore. Twelve kilometres to the West is Lord Egerton Castle, built in 1940s by Lord Maurice Egerton Tatton at the behest of a woman. Nakuru is also the gateway to the Menengai Crater, a picturesque, dormant volcano, (2,490 metres high) and home to Kenya’s largest geothermal power fields.
Nearly 50% of income is generated by subsistence and commercial agriculture around Nakuru. The other main economic activities are tourism, energy generation in Menengai and Olkaria, small and large scale commercial businesses as well as manufacturing.
Changing skyline with now 140'000 buildings in Nakuru
From atop the new 12-floor Tower One building in downtown Nakuru, the changing skyline is visible. The rusty roofs of old colonial buildings that once dotted the town’s edges are no more. Modern tiled and coloured roofs and new high-rise buildings now sprout from the rubble where the old, dilapidated structures once stood. The CBD is expanding towards major estates like Section 58 and its environs. Currently, old colonial buildings that used to be the face of Nakuru back then are being pulled down one by one and are replaced by modern-day high rise buildings.
In terms of development, major estates such as Kiamunyi with about 9500 buildings are worth pointing out given the major development taking place. For instance, not only are apartments being built but shopping complexes as well, an aspect that is opening up the area to its own economic development. Additionally, areas such as Pipeline with 10000 housing units and for now smaller Barnabas with about 2500 buildings continue to open up with continued development of apartments as well as malls, leading to movement of families from initial residential areas of Langa Langa and Racecourse to this particular new settlement areas.
Why half of the total growth since 2010 occurred in Free Area, Mawanga, Pipeline and Rhoda
Mawanga has experienced increased growth with regard to the number of housing development projects that have taken place over the last 10 years. You walk around Mawanga and one is amazed of the amount of development projects that are still taking place in this particular area. Speaking to one individual who lives in this particular area echoed this particular sentiments, that, “Mawanga is very close to town, and a majority of people love the area given that the houses being built are not only modern but very affordable especially to young people just starting out on their various careers.”
This is the similar case with Free Area which at the moment boasts of its own market place as well as a burgeoning real estate developments. 10 years ago, Free Area was disserted with only empty lands and corn fields. Currently, however, locating idle land in Free area is not an easy thing; rather, a majority of the land is developed, with most being occupied by rental apartments and shopping complexes. A majority of people are thus moving to Free Area given there is as well the availability of various employment opportunities, as it is with the case of affordable housing.
This is the same scenario with Pipeline which at the moment is experiencing its early phases of development. Much land is still bare, with their prices increasing by the day. What is however clear is the fact that within 5-6 years from now, major developments will take place at Pipeline and that the steady growth witnessed over the last 10 years could skyrocket.
Rhonda is more of a “slum” area, with much development having taken place but with very minimal planning regarding the same. However, there has still been a steady growth of the numbers in this particular area given that a majority of homeowners seek more from their properties thus are engaged in various refurbishment initiatives, or the complete destruction and rebuilding of houses in the area.
The increase in growth as witnessed is as a result of continued development of housing projects in the areas, to which people in Nakuru are willing to move into just to get away from initial famous neighborhoods such as Langa Langa and so on. For Rhoda, it is the improvement and refurbishing of initial housing developments that drives people back to this particular area.
From the analysis, it is clear that Nakuru is no longer the way it used to be 10 years ago; rather, tremendous changes have taken place driving the town to be selected and be accorded the title of a city this very soon.