Lamu’s business community has welcomed news that works on the Garsen-Witu-Makowe road will begin soon.
The Government last week announced it had awarded the Sh10.4 billion project to China Wu Yi Construction Company. Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the contractor is expected to start working on the site in three weeks’ time.
The scope of the works will include tarmacking the stretch, construction of a loop road at Mkunumbi-Mpeketoni, a bypass in Witu town and an access road to the Mokowe Jetty.
Keziah Mumbi, the general manager of Lamu Palace and Petleys Inn, said the upgrade of the 135-kilometre road would open up Lamu to more tourists.
“It is a relief. Lamu is the only county that has been without a single kilometre of tarmac road since Kenya attained independence,” she said.
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Other stakeholders see the road upgrade as providing a shot in the arm for the area’s ailing tourism industry, which has suffered adverse travel advisories owing to terror threats.
“We have seen massive Government efforts to tackle insecurity and are optimistic that threats posed by elements of Al Shabaab militia will be wiped out completely,” Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer, Sam Ikwaye, said.
Lamu County Deputy Governor Eric Mugo added: “In the last two years, during a tourism downturn, we have taken the cue and re-branded the isle as the Island of Festivals.”
He was speaking after officiating a graduation ceremony for more than 400 individuals involved in the tourism sector. The training was funded by the Tourism Fund (TF) and facilitated by trainers from the Technical University of Mombasa.
“We have worked tirelessly to remodel and renovate tourism in Lamu, and it is clear that Lamu is fast rising out of the woods,’’ Mr Mugo said.
He added that the county government is working with the Lamu Tourism Association to develop a calendar of events and combine efforts to push for the ‘Discover Lamu’ campaign.
Another sector key to the economy of Lamu that is likely to benefit from a proper road network is fisheries.