WRC Safari Rally a resounding success, on and off the road

Kalle Rovenpera

Maasai dancers cheer Finland's Kalle Rovenpera navigated by Jonne Halttunen in their Toyota Yaris upon winning the 2022 World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 26, 2022 at Hell’s Gate in Naivasha.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A more mature crowd with disposable income was able to make it to Naivasha thereby saving poor girls the woes that befell them after their companions left them stranded there last time round.
  • There were a few isolated cases of violence following the heavy presence of security personnel in Moi South Road.

The 2022 WRC Safari Rally is now part of rallying folklore and a testament of how tough the event is.

It prominently fits into the 13 rounds World Championship with a global audience mesmerised by the African Savannah landscape, tough routes, and composition of the soil.

The fesh fesh in particular choked engines with top drivers putting maximum power output in their 500 plus BHP machines to conquer the Kedong Ranch's day-two test.

New sections in Geothermal and Narach brought a new whiff of freshness. The organisers did a brilliant job as foreign journalists praised the high speed of internet connectivity.

One Australian doing a podcast said that compared to Australia, Kenya by far offers better services.

All this was enabled by the WRC Safari Rally head of ICT Linus Kimathi who two months ago walked every inch of the WR&TC trench checking the fibre optic.

Safaricom offered mobile internet services at Hells Gate for live coverage by the WRC TV at the podium finish.

Joe Wachira, who was offering environmental conservation services, cleaned all spectator stages at Kedong, Hells Gate, and Soysambu Conservancy besides Moi South Road and part of the Nairobi/Naivasha highway to ensure that Naivasha was left a cleaner place after the Safari Rally.

The FIA awarded Kenya an Environmental award for last year's efforts. Top drivers also joined in the tree planting exercise, promising to return next year to check how their plants were doing.

But there are several observations that did not measure up to last year's event.

There were fewer fans and most traders reported heavy losses after invading Naivasha with all types of ware.

In mitigation, it has been confirmed that many spectators kept away to avoid their harrowing experience of last year that saw them being stuck in heavy traffic jams and lacking accommodation.

This was not the case this year though after Police Commission Julius Kabiru, and Kenya Polices Services worked hard to make the flow of traffic smooth.

The idea of setting up open-air entertainment joints and tented camps was brilliant at it kept revellers away from roads. All deserve credit, more so Kabiru, who the FIA said was the best choice.

If last year traders, especially those serving drinks, made a killing, 2022 was a disaster. Many people arrived in Naivasha with enough food and drinks.

They had also made prior accommodation arrangements. Secondly, it is clear that the economy is in shambles and therefore people did not have that carefree spending attitude.

Coincidentally high end venues were shunned demonstrating that Kenyans have now turned to the kadogo economy.

Anything less than Sh100 was moving fast like roast and boiled maize, mutura and smokies. Muratina, a traditional brew and common mwananchi's favourite drinks such as Kibao Vodka, Kenya Kane, and Konyagi, selling at Sh200 for 250ml bottles were moving fast.

A more mature crowd with disposable income was able to make it to Naivasha thereby saving poor girls the woes that befell them after their companions left them stranded there last time round.

There were a few isolated cases of violence following the heavy presence of security personnel in Moi South Road.

Traders in the CDB were a happy lot especially supermarkets which recorded good sales.

The hotels and Airbnb owners smiled all the way to the bank as they also made a killing by overcharging, something which needs to be addressed by themselves or it will turn counterproductive with fewer people coming to Naivasha during the Safari.

Organisers should also start looking for other locations with more accommodating places to take the Safari.

All in all the 2022 WRC Safari Rally was a resounding success.

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