Factors affecting growth of designated service centres (a comparative study of Matuu and Kithimani Centres)
This study examines the factors that may have influenced the unprecedented fast growth of Matuu and inhibited the growth of Kithimani. At a higher level of designation, Kithimani is a rural center whilst Matuu is a market center and of a lower designation in the hierarchy of service centers. After an appraisal of some of the indices of growth that the physical planning department used in the designation of service centers, the study evaluates and analyses possible factors that have caused the anamolly which has hindered the growth of Kithimani on one hand and those that have propelled Matuu's growth on the other. These centers are about 17 miles apart and serve the same hinterland. Kithimani's designation as a rural center appears to have been influenced heavily by the fact that it was the divisional headquarters, and had a high concentration of infrastructural services for that reason , unlike Matuu. The study goes on to evaluate the historical, agricultural and transportation developments in the Yatta region as possible factors that have led to the present state of these centers in terms of physical social and economic functions. The study confirms that transportation re-alignment of Thika, Garissa road caused an increased accessibility for Matuu and by-passed Kithimani inhibiting its reach adversely to other important centers in the region. It therefore appears that~when Kithimani was designated as a rural center, little emphasis was given to its location relative to, other vital centers in the region except for Machakos which is the district headquarters. It does not seem that the physical planners considered the locations and the influence of other important centers close by like Nairobi, Thika, Machakos, Embu and Kitui which had already been generating their own momentum of growth and their effects on Kithimani. Results from the study also show that Matuu's central location and good accessibility to the mentioned complimenting centers has attracted the farmers in the highly productive agricultural schemes to market their produce in it and a conducive collection point for produce destined elsewhere in the region. Lastly, increased traffic flow has been confirmed around Matuu mainly due to the re-alignment of Thika- Garissa road and improvements of Embu and Machakos roads. This flow of traffic generation rose insignificantly around Kithimani.The above major findings have thus reduced the effectiveness of Kithimani as a rural service center in yatta area. Other minor findings of relevance to the study tells us that the historical development of centers are important indices of growth. Centers that have evolved as traditional market centers have better chances of growth and should be selected as service centers like Matuu whilst those that have evolved through administration reasons are not likely to gather momentum for self-generating growth like in Kithimani.