Bungoma gets a face lift as officials land for Madaraka Day

President William Ruto flagging off upgrading construction of Mayanja-Kimkung-Sirisia road at Mayanja Bungoma county on May 31, 2024.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

Bungoma residents are in a carnival mood as the town warms up to host the 61st Madaraka Day celebrations to be held today at the Masinde Muliro Stadium.

Preparations for the big day have transformed Bungoma town, leaving residents to marvel at the benefits of hosting a national fete.

From Musikoma area, along the Mumias-Bungoma road, the mood is palpable with an improved road network and streetlights that have been erected along the key roads and the town centre.

The scope of road works includes upgrading urban roads to bitumen standard, drainage works and construction of walkways within the town.

The roads within the town have been garlanded with billboards bearing the images of President William Ruto, area Governor Kenneth Lusaka and National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula.

Madaraka Day is a national holiday celebrated every June 1 of the year to commemorate when Kenya attained internal self-rule after being a British colony since 1920.

President Ruto will preside over the event that will take place at the newly revamped Masinde Muliro Stadium where more than 10,000 people are expected to attend.

Military officers and the National Youth Service (NYS) raced against time to complete the construction of the stadium.

The team was under the supervision of Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo, who chairs the national holiday celebrations preparations committee.

This week, the team burnt the midnight oil upgrading roads leading to the venue and erecting a perimeter wall around the facility.

For the first time, Bungoma town will have three roundabouts at different points along the Mumias-Kanduyi road with water foundations.

Kenya Power and the State Department for Water are also on the site to ensure existing gaps are sealed and that there is a steady electricity and water connection.

The President has pitched camp in Bungoma for a three-day development tour before presiding over the national fete.

The Head of State landed in the county on May 30 at the newly constructed Matulo Airstrip loaded with a list of transformative initiatives for the region.

Ruto commissioned

On Thursday, the President opened Webuye West Technical and Vocational College at Machakha, before holding a meeting at the Bungoma State Lodge in the evening.

On Friday, Dr Ruto commissioned Mayanya-Sirisia Road and Kapkara dam in Sirisia Constituency. He also commissioned the Immigration office in Bungoma town for passport and other government documents issuance.

The President is operating from the newly revamped State Lodge.

Managers of major hotels in the town have announced full bookings.

Mr Caleb Barasa, the human resource and marketing manager at the Tourist Hotel, said the facility which boasts of two presidential suites, 15 executive rooms and more than 80 standard rooms was at 100 per cent booking.

“Madaraka Day has brought impact in terms of accommodation with an influx of clients seeking accommodation. Some of the clients are from the national government, foreign embassies, the political class and senior county officials,” said Mr Barasa.

“We have been forced to improve our amenities including the restaurants, swimming pool and the club to suit the class of clients checking in. We are also collaborating with the police to beef up security to ensure the safety of our clients,” he added.

Hunters Paradise

And at the Hunters Paradise, accommodation for its 32 rooms was fully booked by May 28.

Hunters Paradise front office manager Diana Apondi confirmed that the facility with one executive, four deluxe suites and 16 standard rooms was filled up.

“The Madaraka Day celebration has given us an eye that we are a potential venue for accommodations,” said Ms Apondi.

Governor Lusaka said the hosting of Madaraka Day celebrations had come with a lot of goodies for the residents of Bungoma that will live long in their hearts.

He said: “Bungoma will not be the same again. The economy of Bungoma will grow tremendously out of hosting Madaraka Day celebrations.”

The government allocated money for the construction of more than 600 kilometres of roads in the county and the refurbishment of Matulo Airstrip ahead of the national fete.

Some of the roads in Bungoma proposed for upgrade for the Madaraka Day celebrations this year are Matulo Airstrip access road, Makutano-River Khalaba (White Rose) Road and Bungoma- River Khalaba (C811) Road, which have been upgraded to bitumen standard.

Mr Lusaka said the construction of the roads under the Kenya National Highway Authority (Kenha), Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) and Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) was meant to open up the region and connect it with neighbouring counties.

Other infrastructure developments in the county include the reinstating of the damaged Malakisi bridge and approach roads, the routine maintenance and spot improvement of Kapsokwony-Kaptama-JCT (A1) and Kitale (B13) roads, Kimaeti-Lwakhakha (B141) road, Mungatsi–Kimaeti (B141) and (Turbo) Junction A1 (Shikhendu) (B123) roads.

Periodic maintenance

Under Kura, 28km of urban roads have been built in Bungoma, Kimilili and Webuye towns.

Kura is also upgrading 13.5km of roads in Bungoma under the annuity programme for Sh4.3 billion, including construction, routine and periodic maintenance.

“The primary intention of the infrastructure development is to support growth in the sectors of commerce, tourism, agriculture, rural production and extractive industries,” said Mr Lusaka during the opening of the Bungoma Food Security Exhibition at Kibabii University.

The county chief said his administration had collaborated with the national government to have all the necessary security arrangements and will continue working on gaps to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa said the mood of the Madaraka Day celebration was being felt in Kakamega, as many visitors were spilling to the neighbouring county resulting in a boom in the hospitality sector.

“Kakamega and Bungoma share a lot in common and that is why we (in Kakamega) are feeling part of this celebration. I encourage visitors coming for the Madaraka Day celebrations to sample the different indigenous food and enjoy the hospitality of Kakamega,” he said.