Plans to develop a Sh520 million waterfront on Lake Naivasha have been suspended due to rising water levels.
The construction, which was to start last year, did not take off after Lake Naivasha waters started rising, swallowing up its shores in a phenomenon that has also affected several other lakes in the Rift Valley region.
Nakuru County is banking on the much-awaited multimillion-shilling project to reinvigorate its tourism industry, which has been battered by the Covid-19 pandemic since last year.
“The construction of the waterfront will resume soon, but as of now, it has been suspended due to the rising waters of Lake Naivasha. It is one of the waterfronts being constructed in the country, in a grand plan to revitalise the tourism sector," Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala told the Nation. “The project will be one of the largest tourist destinations in Nakuru and the country.”
On Thursday, Nakuru County Tourism Executive Raymond Komen gave an assurance that, although the project had been delayed, it was still on course.
“Despite the delays and challenges occasioned by rising waters of Lake Naivasha, the project is on course. It will be a game-changer for the tourism sector in the region,” said Mr Komen.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui is also upbeat that the mega project will be a major boost to the tourism sector, as it will attract both local and international visitors to the region as well as create job opportunities.
“Lake Naivasha waterfront will be a timely project that will boost the industry. We want to attract more tourists even as we prepare for the formation of the Nakuru Tourism Board to revitalise and manage the tourism sector in the county. We are also rethinking our marketing strategy to increase the number of tourists visiting Nakuru,” Mr Kinyanjui told the Nation.
Already, the ministries of Tourism, Transport, Infrastructure and Housing as well as Urban Development and Public Works have approved the design for the construction of the multimillion-shilling waterfronts despite opposition from environmentalists.
In May last year, Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Wavinya Ndeti, who toured the construction site, said the project would take at least six months and be completed by the end of 2021.
Ms Ndeti said her ministry was working with their counterparts in Tourism to implement the waterfront project.
The waterfront and the Naivasha Special Economic Zone, which will include the Naivasha Industrial Park and the Naivasha Inland Container Depot, are expected to transform the town into a major commercial hub in the East Africa region.
The CAS further revealed customs offices will be constructed around the dry port this year.
Delayed by the outbreak
Initially, the construction of the waterfront had been scheduled to start in March last year but was delayed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The development’s main target are the tourists who troop to Naivasha for short visits, especially during the weekends.
The waterfront will have hotels as well as recreational and entertainment facilities.
The facility will also offer visitors a serene environment and an opportunity to do weddings on the lakefront.
Apart from a campsite, the waterfront will also have dancing fountains and an aquarium.
Once associated with odd news, Naivasha has over the years shed its bad image and officials now tout it as a competitor to the coastal towns as developers put up tourist resorts.
Nakuru County has partnered with the national government to construct the waterfront.
The national government, through the Ministry of Tourism, is investing millions of shillings in rehabilitation of waterfronts in at least five counties to attract more tourists.
The other counties that will benefit from the waterfront project are Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi and Kisumu.
The government has completed the luxurious Sh460 million Mama Ngina Drive Waterfront project in Mombasa.