The night of June 30 and the dawn of July 1 witnessed countrywide celebrations to mark the operationalisation of the new cities.
The euphoria and excitement caused by the regional cities can best be understood by the desire for development in those places.
It is born out of the fact that a city status comes with development opportunities such as growth in infrastructure and social services, and the creation of jobs, among others.
As we all look forward to the anticipated opportunities, we must be cognisant of the fact that it will require a lot of eff ort from all the stakeholders to fully realise the envisaged benefits.
At this point, several challenges lie ahead of the new cities. How managers of the new cities will address the challenges will determine the level of progress made.
First, many of these cities have been municipal councils that suffered from nearly all the ills of urbanisation such as limited resources, absence of functional development plans, weak and dilapidated urban infrastructure, etc.
The upgrading of municipalities to cities without addressing the these many challenges leaves these cities in dilemma.
Without attempting to get into new priorities, they already have a lot on their plates. It is, therefore, important for those charged with the administration of the new cities to draw a long-term perspective of what it would take to have functional cities that will rhyme with the aspiration of the population within those respective cities.
This will require both shortterm and long-term interventions which should be based on a well thought out planning.