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Mixed bag of goodies for locals as Ahero attains town status
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|Mixed bag of goodies for locals as Ahero attains town status by Kenyans247(1): Fri 13, November, 2020 02:00pm|
What you need to know:
Ahero is located 25km to the south east of the lakeside City of Kisumu.
The Kisumu county government has allocated Sh15 million for the upgrade plan.
It will be a mixed bag of goodies for the residents of Ahero trading centre in Kisumu County as it readies itself for an upgrade to a town status.
Ahero is nestled in the Kano plains, a rich agricultural region renowned for growing rice, sugarcane and soya beans in Nyando Sub-County.
Ahero is located 25km to the south east of the lakeside City of Kisumu. The centre is located at the junction of the Nairobi-Kisumu (A104) and the Kisii-Kisumu (A1) highways, making it a vibrant economic hub serving residents of Kisii, Homa Bay and Nandi counties.
Residents are upbeat about plans by the county government to upgrade the agricultural centre to a town status. The Kisumu county government has allocated Sh15 million for the upgrade plan.
But the transformation of the trading centre is expected to come at a price since residents will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for services in the changed setup, which will include parking fees as well as higher rates and levies for land and businesses.
The funds will be spent on construction of a 400-metre road network within Ahero town. The works will involve upgrading of the road network and improvement of drainage systems.
For the first time, the residents will enjoy improved security and a 24-hour economy once 35 street lights stretching for a kilometre are installed to light up the quiet rural centre into activity.
Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, who spoke during the unveiling of the town on November 11, 2020, said the county government plans to put up a solid waste management system, which will involve composting of organics into fertiliser as well as recover and recycle plastics and glass into building blocks.
“Ahero is a landmark town with interesting features and a booming economy. It’s a farming town surrounded by lush green rice fields and the great Nyando agricultural belt teeming with sugar cane plantations," said Prof Nyong'o.
"Kenya co-hosted the World Cities Day during which delegates acknowledged the need for building resilient cities and towns as drivers in achieving Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
Currently, consultations for planning for the integrated development plans are progressing to unlock the potential of the urban centre.
"The integrated development planning will guide us on the cost and resources needed to upgrade the area into a town. We have to do infrastructure, roads, schools, parks and street lighting beyond the small place that we know as Ahero," the governor said.
Mr Joel Tanui, the western region scheme manager at the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), said about Sh1.5 billion is in circulation in the town each harvesting season through trade- shops, input suppliers, hotels, rice processors and transporters.
"Ahero will be an agriculture driven town with irrigation and rice production being the key drivers of growth," said Mr Tanui.
The schemes also engage directly over 10,000 people working there as labourers who buy their daily needs from Ahero.
"We have over 13,000 acres of irrigation surrounding the town, with a harvest of over 30,000 metric tonnes valued at 1.5 billion each season. And we have two seasons annually," said Mr Tanui.
However, he said Ahero has a potential for industries, millers and animal feeds factory.
Ahero becomes the second town to be elevated to a town in Kisumu County after Maseno. The county plans to upgrade five urban centres into towns. Others on the queue are Muhoroni, Katito and Kombewa.
The trading centre is being unveiled under the new Urban Cities Act as a town having met the 10,000 population threshold.
The Ahero National Irrigation Scheme is actively involved in the ongoing upgrade plan of the town. The centre has a retail market serving as the main trading centre for food and goods coming from Kisii, Homa Bay, and Nandi County. The business accounts for much of the town’s trade and commerce.
The history of Ahero town dates back to 1912 when it started as a market centre.
Mzee Richard Onguto, a resident of Ahero, recalls the growth of the trading centre many years ago when he was a young man. He said residents would gather at a spot for trade.
Women would arrive at the market to prepare porridge from millet flour, which was in demand among locals.
Residents from the neighbouring Nandi community would visit the centre to exchange tobacco for sweet potatoes, cassava and other foodstuffs with the Luo community in a form of barter trade.
As the market became popular, it attracted more traders from far and wide.
"The name Ahero means a place that people love. Ahero in Dholuo means to love. It was a favourite market place for many, including non-Luo speaking communities," said Mr Onguto.
History of Ahero
In 1939, the colonial administration set up a dispensary, which was a small house where people could get medical services.
The dispensary was built where the current Ahero Primary School is located. Soon afterwards, a hospital with a maternity wing followed. Next to the dispensary was a police station and a chief's camp.
After independence in 1963, the police station and the hospital were relocated to a new site across the road.
The relocation was meant to pave way for the establishment of a primary school, St Anne's Ahero Primary, built in 1968 by Catholic missionaries, followed by a secondary school.
"Years later the municipal council would allow traders to set up stalls to sell their goods and services to buyers. Most of these stalls were temporary shacks made of mud walls," says Mr Onguto.
An irrigation board was established in 1968, two years after people started engaging in rice farming.
The rice scheme was launched in 1967 by President Jomo Kenyatta and trade unionist Tom Mboya.
Currently, most farmers are out in the field harvesting their paddy, which is ready for sale in the market.
Unfortunately, most of the rice grown in Nyando finds its way to Uganda due to lack of mills to process the grain for value addition.
The town provides space for informal sector activities such as hawking, kiosks, open-air fish-frying, and boda-bodas, which are a source of income for a significant proportion of the population.
The Kisumu county government recognised the need to improve Ahero since the town is second to Kisumu city in terms of trade and revenue collection.
It is also a gateway to Kisumu city, and planning it better would ease pressure on the county capital.
Ahero is currently the home of several residents of Kisumu County who work in Kisumu town and commute from their homes to work.
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