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History of Bungoma

Bungoma is a town in Western Province of Kenya, near the Kenya-Uganda border. It is the headquarters of Kenya's Bungoma County. The town’s history dates back to the construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway in the 1920s.

Its recent growth however is attributed to its location in the Western Sugar belt with both Nzoia and Mumias sugar factories only a short drive away as is the Pan African Paper Mills factory at Webuye. The origin of the name Bungoma has two versions.

  1. The site was inhabited by a Kalenjin sub tribe called "Bangot"
  2. It was a meeting place by the Bukusu elders who used drums "engoma’’ to summon people to meetings- consequently, it was referred to as the place of drums by the local Bukusu hence the name Bungoma.
In 1956, Bungoma became the headquarters of Elgon Nyanza district and then granted Urban Centre. It became a Town Council in 1973 before being elevated to a Municipality in 1980. By 1997, the number of wards had increased to eight with a total land area rising from 31 sq km to 57 sq km. These wards are Namasanda, Siritanyi, Musikoma, Sinoko, Khalaba, Mjini, Stadium and Sio.

Township and Musikoma locations make up the area covered by the Municipal Council of Bungoma. The town is located 450 km from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, on the Great North road to Kampala in Uganda at an altitude of 1,385 m above sea level.

A Section of a street in Bungoma
Administration / Leadership

Governor Bungoma County - Hon Ken Lusaka

Senator Bungoma County - Hon Moses Wetangula

Bungoma County has 9 constituencies:

  1. Bumula  (MP, Hon Otsiula,Bonface Okhiya)
  2. Kanduyi (MP, Hon Wamunyinyi,Athanas Wafula)
  3. Webuye West (MP, Hon Sitati,Daniel Wanyama)
  4. Webuye East (MP, Hon Sambu,Alfred Wekesa)
  5. Tongaren  (MP, Hon Simiyu, David Eseli)
  6. Sirisia (MP, Hon Koyi, John Waluke)
  7. Kimilili (MP, Hon Kasuti,Suleiman Murunga)
  8. Mt Elgon (MP, Hon Serut,John Bomett)
  9. Kabuchai (MP, Hon Mukwe,James Lusweti)
  10. Women Representative (MP, Hon Wanyonyi,Reginalda Nakhumicha)
The larger Bungoma was recently divided into four districts namely:
  • Bungoma West (Sirisia Constituency) with its headquarters at Chwele-the second largest open air market with trade in agro-produce and livestock valued at more than Ksh10 million on peak days.

  • Bungoma North (Kimilili Constituency) with its headquarters being constructed at Mukuyuni while Kimilili remains the major urban centre.

  • Bungoma East (Webuye Constituency) with its headquarters at Webuye-home to the biggest pulp and paper factory as well as the famed Nabuyole(Webuye) Falls.

  • Bungoma South district (Bumula and Kanduyi constituencies) With its headquarters at Bungoma town.
The administrative divisions in Bungoma include: Bumula,Chwele, Kanduyi, Kimilili, Malakisi, Ndivisi, Sirisia, Tongaren and Webuye divisions.

The district has the following Local authorities (councils) Bungoma Municipal council, Kimilili Municipal council, Webuye Municipal council, Malakisi Town council, Sirisia Town council.
The Municipal Council of Bungoma, executes three key functions: local services, local governance and local development through strategic leadership.

The organization and management of the Municipal Council of Bungoma is structured into two arms-the policy formulation arm headed by His Worship the Mayor and comprising of eight elected councilors and the executive arm with the Town Clerk at the apex that implements policy decisions made by the former.
The Council has eight elected and two nominated councilors.

A Section of a street in Bungoma
Economy

The major economic activity is farming and business. There are no Industries within the municipality of Bungoma however some of the Industrial centers found near Bungoma town are at Nzoia with the Nzoia Sugar Factory and at Webuye the Pan Paper mills.

The area experiences high rainfall throughout the year, and is home to several large rivers, which are used for small-scale irrigation,this explains why the area is an agricultural area.
Dairy farming is one of the key economic activities revolving around agro- production making processing of milk and manufacture of milk products a venture worth spending money on. Milk supply outstrips the capacity of the Kitinda Farmers Cooperative society dairy plant.

Cotton ginning with the planned revival of cotton growing in Bungoma West and Bungoma South districts along with the manufacture of animal feeds are others awaiting exploitation from astute investors.

Manufacture of paper based packaging materials is a venture worth considering with the Pan African Paper Mills factory in Webuye only a stone’s throw away. Nevertheless, agro forestry initiatives, dairying, poultry and pig farming, oil palm growing are projects around Bungoma that may attract large-scale investments fast.

As a district capital of the greater Bungoma, the town has attracted leading banks to set up base thus making it a financial center as well. Today, all major banking institutions have branches here easing financial transactions.
Barclays Bank , Kenya Commercial Bank, National Bank of Kenya, Equity Bank, Family Bank, Post Bank are among those running branches at Bungoma that offer forex services.

A multi- million Silo Complex and conventional stores owned by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) with storage capacity of 830,000 metric tones in the rich agricultural hinterland make the town potential centre for flour milling, rice milling, as viable investment options.

The Municipal Council of Bungoma, Kenya Industrial Estates are bodies that would facilitate quick take off development initiative and financial institutions would readily avail credit to support the ventures.

A Section of a street in Bungoma
Transport and Communication

Transport

Road transport is the major means of transport to areas around the larger Bungoma and to the rest of Kenya. The use of motorcycles is however gaining popularity in Bungoma giving competition to the famous Bodaboda transport which is transport by use of bicycles.
Transportion of goods in bulk has also been made possible through the use of rail transport with the Bungoma Railway Station within the town center.
Air transport has also been made possible by the presence of the Bungoma airstrip, structures are in place to expand the airstrip so that it could accommodate even the large aircrafts.

Postal Services

Posta Kenya, a state parastatal offers postal services both local and international. Private service providers, Group Four Securicor-G4S, Roy Parcel Services, DHL do, however, offer door-to-door parcel delivery services.

Telecommunication Services

Telkom Kenya another state corporation that previously offered fixed telephone services has entered the mobile telephone range earlier dominated by Safaricom, Zain and lately YU.

Radio and TV

Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), the country’s leading national and official radio station is widely listened to by Bungoma residents. This is in addition to local FM stations that broadcast in English, Kiswahili and local dialects that are operated by private organizations and have popular listenership. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and other foreign radio stations also cover the area. Though KBC is the national and official TV station, the independent channel Kenya Television Network (KTN), which is privately run, is the most popular among town residents. Other leading TV stations with a wide following include Citizen TV and NTV. Sayari TV channel is mostly favoured by Christians.

Attractive Sites
Educational Institutions

Major tertiary educational institutions include the Sang'alo Institute of Science and Technology, Mabanga Farmer's Training Centre, Kibabii Diploma Teachers Training College, SACRED Africa and the SACRED Training Institute and two private teacher-training colleges.

Several Universities have also opened campuses in the area. These include Moi University (working with SACRED training Institute, www.sti.or.ke), Masinde Muliro University and Kenyatta University among others.

Picnic and Recreation Sites

Rare rock formations are notable at Sang'alo, Kabuchai and Musikoma hills near Bungoma Town, Mulia footprint, Buteyo Miti Park are some of the key attractions plus the traditional circumcision ceremony in August of every year of the local Bukusu and Saboat people in neighbouring Mt Elgon which was hived off Bungoma in 1993 which are a must watch for visitors.

Elephants, Buffaloes, antelopes, the rich birdlife here as well as the caves where elephants and other small animals mine salt in Mt Elgon National Park are worth visiting. The Webuye falls is near the Pan African Paper Mills factory just 20 minutes drive from Bungoma Town.

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