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Crucial tourism road

Fix the Mara Road or else

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Sep 02, 2011

(eTN) - Tourism stakeholders have once again demanded that the Kenyan government finally lives up to its often made and yet to be delivered promises, to have a crucial tourism road fixed up.

The section of road between Narok and the Sekenani gate, a major entrance to the world-famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, is in a growing state of disrepair, and according to a regular source from Nairobi "…a total disgrace for our country and a damning indictment on our politicians and government as a whole."

Tourism is a major economic sector in Kenya, second in foreign exchange earnings only after tea, though expected to reclaim the top spot this year as arrivals are booming, and the Masai Mara is one of the most high-profile parks. Known around the world for the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebras from the Serengeti, between late June and October each year, getting to the Mara has been a nightmare for many safari drivers.

While those tourists who can afford it fly to the Masai Mara on one of the many daily scheduled flights from Wilson Airport or even from other national parks, those who cannot pay that price for comfort are literally condemned to suffer "one of the worst roads in Kenya," according to another source.

"I blame the Narok council as much as central government. We do not care over jurisdiction, we care to have this road fixed immediately. When tourist vehicles get stuck overnight, it is very bad publicity for us; when our shock absorbers break, the springs snap and tourists arrive in the Mara all sore and aching - their enjoyment of the safari is spoilt and they already complain on arrival about the trip back. Narok council is chewing big from gate receipts, and we demand that infrastructure, including access roads, are maintained. Right now voting is ongoing for being part of the 7 modern wonders of the world, and the Masai Mara will lose, because those who can vote will remember the bad roads," said yet another source.

Government sources, stung by the harsh criticism, were swift to defend themselves claiming tenders had been awarded, but critics rejected this explanation out of hand, saying this statement is now a broken "cassette" played too often in Nairobi, while the little left of the road keeps falling apart.

In contrast, the Kenyan government has invested big time in new highways through, around and from the capital city of Nairobi towards Mombasa and Thika, and also other major highways across the country, leaving open questions to be answered if the Narok to Sekenani road is not a political football, kicked around at the expense of the tourism industry.

Fix the Mara Road or else
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