The government is banking on a new law recently passed by Parliament to bring order to the country’s towns.

According to Local Government minister Musalia Mudavadi, the Urban Areas and Cities Act will ensure that settlements in Kenya’s towns and cities are well-planned, thus helping avert disasters related to poor design.

“There has been an increase in cases of tragedies like the recent Sinai fire disaster. If the right measures are not taken, we fear more lives will be lost,” said Mr Mudavadi.

He went on to disclose that the government had set up a team of experts to classify and plan urban centres in line with the provisions of the Urban Areas and Cities Act.

Separately, outdated planning standards and poor coordination have been cited as a major hindrance to the growth of the real estate sector in the country.

Housing Finance managing director Frank Ireri said last week that approval procedures for sub-division of land are still lengthy and complicated because of the many statutes involved.

“The key to effective land use planning requires robust institutional capacity and governance structures for speedy implementation and enforcement of approved plans, policies, and strategies,” said Mr Ireri, adding that transfer, documentation, processing fees, and stamp duty rates were still beyond the reach of many Kenyans.