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
"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
"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,"
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
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.