What You Need To Know
Thika is an industrial town in Kiambu County, Kenya, lying on the A2 road 42 kilometres (26 mi) north east of Nairobi, near the confluence of the Thika and Chania Rivers. Although Thika town is administratively in Kiambu County, the greater Thika area comprising such residential areas such as Bendor estate, Maporomoko, Thika Greens, Thika Golden Pearl, Bahati Ridge, Thika Sports Club, among others, are within Murang’a County. Thika has a population of 139,853 which is growing rapidly, as is the entire greater Nairobi area. Its elevation is approximately 1,631 metres (5,351 ft). Thika is home to the Chania Falls, Fourteen Falls on the Athi river and the Thika Falls, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park lies to the southeast. The town has a railway station with limited passenger service as only cargo trains operate, although there are plans to extend the proposed light rail system to Thika. The town was the headquarters of Thika West district following the split of the larger Thika district (created in 1994) into five districts: Thika East and Thika West, Ruiru, Gatundu and Gatanga. It was the seat of the South Central regional commissioner (deputy Provincial Commissioner) for Central Province appointed by president Mwai Kibaki in 2009 who is in charge of the larger Kiambu, Thika and Murang’a districts. However, under Kenya’s new constitution, which recognises only the 47 districts in existence before 1992 as semi-autonomous counties, Thika falls under Kiambu County. Although Kiambu Town is expected to be the new county headquarters, it should remain the main commercial centre as well as the seat of the Thika Subcounty of the Kiambu County. The Flame Trees of Thika (Memories of an African Childhood) is a book by Elspeth Huxley, later adapted for television by Euston Films for Thames Television. It describes the life of English settlers in the “White Highlands” in Edwardian times.
Population: Estimate 139,853
Area: 1,631 metres
Bidco Oil Refineries
Bidco oil Refineries, headquartered in Thika, is East Africa’s leading edible oil, soaps & detergents, margarine and baking powder marketer with more than 30 brands. A number of brands have majority market share in their domain. Some of their brands that are household names include (Edible Oils) Elianto, Sun Gold, Soya Gold, Olive Gold and Golden Fry; In the fats section Kimbo and Cowboy, Chipsy; in the Laundry Segment are Power Boy Pro Activ Liquid and Powder detergent, Gental, the Star Series soaps; The personal care segment include Pure n Natural Woman and Man; Margarines are Gold Band and Biddy’s and Mariandazi baking powder. The plant at Thika employs more than 2000 people.
Thika is externally serviced by an eight-lane superhighway, a highway to Garissa and the rest of north-east Kenya, a highway to the central highlands and a railway line (with plans to add a passenger light rail to Nairobi). Internally, the town has a well-maintained road network. The main economic activities include agricultural processing, particularly in horticulture and pineapple (exported mainly to Europe), coffee (exports mainly to the United States and Europe), cooking oils (to the rest of Kenya and eastern Africa) and animal feed processing. Other industries include textile (cotton), macadamia nuts, wheat, tannery, motor vehicle assemblies, cigarette manufacturing, bakeries, packaging and industrial chemicals. About 100 small-scale industries and about 20 major factories exist in and around the town. The service sector is well represented with the establishment and growth of a number of educational and financial institutions. Thika is home or close to three universities, tens of middle level colleges, hundreds of secondary and primary schools and dozens of financial institutions. Thika has a bustling nightlife, modern recreation centres and significant retail trading operations. The growth of the greater Nairobi region and improved infrastructure and services has led to new residential estates.
The Bantu Swahili language and English, the latter being inherited from colonial rule (see British Kenya), are widely spoken as lingua franca.
Before the 2010 constitution, the local government consisted of a thirteen-member Municipal Council, with responsibilities for governmental functions delegated to appointed committees. The mayor was chosen from among the elected or nominated councillors for one-year terms. However, with the new constitution, the municipality was abolished. The town is now under the governance of Kiambu County. The town in 2008 signed a sister city agreement with Dixon, Illinois to create new economic, cultural and social opportunities.
Thika has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen: Cwb) with sunshine most of the year round and an average annual temperature of 19.8 °C, with the hottest period in March and April leading to the long rains and the coldest in July. The “long rains” season lasts from March/April to May/June. The “short rains” season is from October to November/December.