Kirera Mwiti @kirera
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has expressed concern over the poor state of lakes Nakuru and Naivasha.
Balala cited pollution, poor road network, dilapidated buildings, water abstraction from nearby farms and encroachment of riparian land as some of the major woes facing the lakes.
He cited pollution as one of the main reasons that has seen flamingos in Lake Nakuru relocate to other water bodies thus affecting the number of visitors in the lake saying this spells doom for the tourism sector. He accused the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Nakuru county government for some of the woes facing the two water bodies.
The CS noted that lake Nakuru National Park recorded 200,000 visitors last year and generated Sh520 million noting that this could increase if the current challenges at the park are addressed.
“Lake Nakuru is as good as dead because of massive pollution and on a visit to the park, you are met by buildings submerged in water and tens of dead trees,” he said.
Balala directed KWS to send its scientists to the park and address the challenges facing the water body. “A park has to be inspiring and currently, that is not the case at Lake Nakuru National Park and there is need to address the issue of infrastructure which is wanting,” he said.
The CS said Lake Naivasha is also struggling with the same problems. “I shall engage the Environment CS Keriako Tobiko so that he can intervene and save the two lakes, which are very critical to the tourism sector,” he said.
He said the government had committed Sh300 million towards construction of a waterfront in Lake Naivasha with plans on to rehabilitate the Moi South Lake Road.
“Naivasha is currently the main competitor to Mombasa and the government is committed to supporting it to make it more attractive to both local and international visitors,” he said.
Nakuru Deputy Governor Dr Eric Korir asked Balala to intervene on the decision to downgrade the status of Naivasha town.
He said hoteliers, who had invested heavily in the sector, were affected by the move adding that there were more than 300 hotels in the county.
“We have embarked on rehabilitating our roads and we are glad that the number of local and international visitors is on the rise in all the parks,” he said.
Korir added that with the swearing in of the Nakuru Municipal Board, plans to elevate Nakuru town to City Status had gained momentum.