Baringo water drowns trade, job losses up

A boat operator ferries passengers at a flooded Loruk Trading Centre in Baringo County on Tuesday after Marigat-Loruk road was cut off due to rising water levels in Lake Baringo.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • More than six major hotels bordering the Lake have been completely swallowed.
  • At Soi Safari Lodge for instance, more than 63 out of 86 rooms have been submerged including a conference hall and a restaurant.

The rising waters of Lake Baringo have disrupted trade and tourism activities in the region resulting in massive job losses. 

The most affected are boat riders whose main livelihood has been ferrying tourists from areas such as Kampi Samaki to several tourist attraction sites within Lake Baringo.

Dennis Otieno, a boat rider cum chairman of Lake Baringo boat tours and divers association, said their business has been hard hit by the drastic rise of water levels after major hotels were submerged.

“When hotels, which served as accommodation facilities to tourists were submerged, tourists reduced from hundreds to none, rendering more than 120 boat riders who depended on them jobless,” said Mr Otieno.

According to him, the situation has also been aggravated after learning institutions, which used to be the majority of local tourists in the area were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Most of us now have opted to venture into fishing, though the trade is also not sustainable because the numbers of tourists, who have been the major clients, have dropped drastically due to the outbreak of coronavirus. We fear that the majority of families here will die of hunger soon if no urgent interventions are made to assist them,” said the boat rider.

Flood waters

More than six major hotels bordering the Lake have been completely swallowed. Soi Safari Lodge, Roberts Camp, Island camp, Lake breeze, Lake Baringo club, block hotel at the shores of Lake Baringo are staring at heavy losses after the lake burst its banks which has seen hundreds of rooms and cottages engulfed in flood waters.

A spot check by the Nation on a tour of the area found owners struggling to salvage what they could from their premises whose compounds now forming part of the lake.

At Soi Safari Lodge for instance, more than 63 out of 86 rooms have been submerged including a conference hall and a restaurant.

According to the hotel manager Peter Chebii, the facility had lost close to Sh800 million before the main restaurant was swallowed a month ago.

“Out of 86 rooms at the hotel, only 24 have remained after 63 were swallowed by the Lake. The remaining rooms are also at the verge of being submerged by the water which is now two meters high at the main restaurant and the swimming pool which was spared is not working either because its machines are inside water. We have lost close to a billion shillings worth of property,” said Mr Chebii.

The situation is not different at Roberts Camp which normally generates more than Sh20 million annually. Workers were using boats to salvage their property from the submerged facility.

According to the hotel manager James Owuor everything including the main restaurant, cottages, bandas and the owner’s house have completely been submerged with more than 30 workers rendered jobless.

fkoech@ke.nationmedia.com