From single-street market centre to a home of modern skylines; How devolution breathed life into once sleepy Migori Town

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About a decade ago, it was a mere administrative centre which could barely attract investments.

According to 2009 census, Migori town had just about 29, 000 residents. This has shot up to over 100, 000 according to 2019 census.

It was a one street market centre which only acted as stop over points for traders at Isbania, the border town of Kenya and Tanzania.

The town, once a sleepy small administrative Centre along the Kisii-Isebania highway, inhabited only by the native Suna people and adjudicated from the then South Nyanza District headquarters has grown into an economic hub in the region.

The fast growth of the town is associated with the uptake of devolution, and its cosmopolitan nature.

The transformation

The tremendous change of Migori town ascends from the advent of devolution in 2013, which has seen the face of town taken over by beautiful skyscrapers.

This is a flip side of the once rusty structures along the dusty streets.

Serving as the headquarters of the region’s devolved unit has seen the town on the road to reviving its lost glory.

Gigantic Pinnacle Plaza business park in Migori town. ( Photo: Polycarp Owiti, LRB)

The new Migori

Joseph Nyambori, Municipality Board member and chair of the Town Planning Committee has a testimony to the transformation of this town from a market centre in the 1950s.

He has seen he rusty temporary business structures pave way for new modern constructions.

This, he says, was realised through individual growth of businesses, and strict development guidelines put in place by the County Government.

“We have suspended renewing of leases of those with old buildings unless they are renovated,” said Nyambori.

Pioneer Migori Governor Okoth Obado has had his public speeches reiterate on the need to develop the town.

Ten years into his administration, the town lives to these affirmations as it has witnessed a realization of its growth potential.

Obado said the streaming development projects in the town are sufficient evidence that devolution is working.

“My government’s collaboration with other development partners within and outside the country has since seen us instrument some key ventures in the county,” said the Governor.

Bansi Mega supermarket, the biggest shopping centre in Migori town(Photo: Polycarp Owiti, LRB)

Migori town has benefited from its closeness to the world’s popular tourists destination,the Maasai Mara Game Park.

There has also been escalated improvement in the hospitality sectors in the town. This is evident from the massive construction of ultra-modern hotels and restaurants.

Ali Abdul, a restaurant owner in the town says there is increased circulation of money in the area.

“When I started this business in 2010, I barely made a profit as the locals rarely sought our services,” he said.

 He added: “But as we speak, it is fascinating to witness a sharp increase in hotels, restaurants and bars within the town centre and its environs. This happened in a short period after ushering in the devolved government.”

An image of skyscraper under construction at the heart of Migori town (Photo: Polycarp Owiti, LRB)

But even with the evident growth, some residents want the County Government to do more on service delivery so as to motivate investors.  

According to Mirium Auma, a fishmonger at Soko Mjinga market, some laxity in service delivery is creeping in.

“The town has grown and the business is booming but our environment is filthy. The council staffs barely collect waste as before,” she said.

Bright future and more growth

With Migori town being one of the beneficiaries of the over Sh500 million World Bank Urban Promotion Program in Kenya and the expansion of the Kisii-Migori highway to the Isebania border underway, residents have expectations that the town is set to make further strides in the improvement of its amenities.

They also believe the situation is poised to attract more investors and visitors to the benefit of the local economy of the business-rich Migori town.

Polycarp Ochieng
Polycarp Ochienghttp://www.lakeregionbulletin.co.ke
A talented multimedia journalist with a passion for storytelling through the lenses of a camera and a pen. I have honed my skills in photography and videography to perfection, capturing stunning visuals that bring stories to life. With an eye for detail and a creative mind, I excel in creating compelling visual content that engages and resonates with audiences. In addition to visual skills, I am an exceptional writer with a talent for crafting features for both print and broadcast media. My writing skills are complemented by my ability to conduct thorough research and write winning proposals.

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