Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Protest in Kenya over poor road to Maasai Mara

Wild animals in Maasai Mara

By Ronald Njoroge in Narok,Kenya
Business came to a standstill for hours in Narok town of RiftValley Province  on, MondayAugust, 07 after tour drivers, tourists and residents staged a peaceful demonstration against the poor state of the road leading to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve accusing the government of ignoring it at the expense of the tourism sector.

Led by the Kenya Tour Drivers and Guides Association, the protesters held placards criticizing the country`s Roads Minister Franklin Bett for not doing much to influence the construction of this 90-km road leading to the world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Narok County.

Scores of  of tour drivers and guides brought their vehicles to a fueling station on the busy Narok-Nairobi highway, accompanied by foreign tourists and residents protesting against the poor state of the road.
Some of the placards read 'Mara Road Dangerous, 'Government Neglected Mara Road' and 'Bett Must Go!'

As the protesters ran wild shouting slogans disrupting traffic, a truckload of anti-riot
police watched from a close distance.

"The government has ignored this important road for a long time and a contractor who had been assigned the tender abruptly pulled out after re-carpeting a few kilometers without official explanation," Andrew Mungatana, Vice Chairman Kenya Tour Drivers and Guides Association told journalists in Narok. "We want action as soon as possible otherwise the road should be closed." He said tour companies spent a lot servicing their vehicles and questioned a past research finding that Narok was the richest county in the country while the road leading to the park remained deplorable.

On his part, the association chairman Joseph Parpai said driving on the road left many weak and even sick due to the discomfort.He said tourists brought in a lot of money through the Park and implored the government to consider re carpeting the road as soon as possible.

Tourists on site also complained on the poor road condition. One Jenni Gill from Australia said the road needed urgent attention, while yet another, Laura, attested to having fallen sick after a rough ride on the road a couple of days before.

A curio shop owner at Olare on the Narok-Mara road who declined to be named attributed the delay in construction of the road to cartels operating chartered planes from Nairobi's Wilson Airport who wished it remained bad so tourists could opt for direct flights. His claims however, could not be immediately authenticated.

Later, journalists were taken on a ride on the bumpy, dusty road where they saw two tour vehicles broken down at different points.

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