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Tourism stake holders appeal for security and road infrastructure

by Robert Manyara KITALE (Xinhua) -- Insecurity and poor road infrastructure has been identified as major hindrance to the growth of tourism sector in northwest Kenya.

Players in the sector said that despite tourism potentials in the region, it has become difficult to exploit the opportunity due to insecurity and poor road network linking attractive sites.

"People hardly talk about tourism here and yet we have numerous attractive sites.

"Our major problem is insecurity and the poor state of the roads leading to the sites," said Boniface Ndura, the founder of Kitale Nature Conservancy, famously known as the home of deformed animals.

Kitale-Lodwar highway, the key road linking Kenya with South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia, has for decades witnessed frequent bandit attacks on motorists.

Ndura argued that poverty level is high among communities in the region, despite endowed with natural resources which could be tapped and transforms lives.

"The region has natural resources including tourism, but the opportunities have not been exploited due to insecurity and poor road infrastructure," he complained.

Fred Marani, the manager with VI-agro-forestry at Kitale station said communities especially the Pokot and Turkana have not been sensitized the importance of tourism, adding that the community’s rich culture has not been exploited to benefit them.

Speaking in Kitale on Tuesday, the stakeholders expressed concern over the pathetic state of the Kitale-Lodwar road which they said has denied the region the benefits from the tourism.

"The state of the road state of the Kitale-Kapenguria-Lodwar road is a big concern.

"It is a nightmare to drive along the highways and even the lives of passengers are not safe because of insecurity," Marani said.

Due to the poor state of the road, motorists spend long hours to reach the next destination with perishable supplies going to waste on the way.

Over 30 public service vehicle, PSV operators have pulled out of the road in the past four year due to high cost of servicing their vehicles.

Tourist sites such as Mt Elgon and Saiwa national parks, Turkana South game reserve, Ile springs near Kalokol, hot springs in Lokori remain underutilized.

"These tourist sites are underutilized as poverty continues to frustrate communities.

"There is need for counties to come up with strategies to tap these potentials," said Marani.

Marani emphasized the need for the communities in the region to embrace peace and engage in eco-tourism business to tackle rampant poverty.

Security experts noted that the national government has for many years spend a lot of resources to fight insecurity at expense of development.

Pokot and Turkana pastoralists have for long time fought over resources and made it hard for development to spur.

The stakeholder urged the relevant agencies to educate the communities the importance of tourism such as their rich culture which can generate income for the communities.

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