No hawking of food, alcohol as 'Vasha' braces for rally fans

President William Ruto shake hands with Kenya National Rally Champion Carl Tundo during the launch of the 70th Anniversary of the World Rally Championship at KICC. CS Sports Ababu Namwamba (second left) and PS Peter Tum (second right) March 28, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The decision to adjust the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar from June to March to fit in with the Easter Weekend was met with excitement among rally lovers, revelers and traders.

However, unlike last year, there will be no partying on the Moi South Lake Road something that might spoil the party for those who travel from Nairobi and elsewhere for a weekend of merrymaking. 

“We have banned parking along the highway, no selling of alcohol on the roads while Moi South Lake Road will remain closed to any business from Saturday to Sunday evening,” Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Abdi Hassan announced.

He also said security measures will be in place to avoid traffic snarl-ups that have in the past saw motorists spend the night by the roadside.

According to the administrator, anyone found overlapping, parking by the roadside or selling alcohol would face the full wrath of the law as more security officers were dispatched to the town.

Traffic commandant Eric Kiragu also reiterated the ban on all parties mainly along Moi South Lake Road in Naivasha to avoid traffic jams.

He said that more traffic officers would be stationed on major roads in the town to control the high number of motorists expected during the event.

“We have banned hawking of alcohol and other food along Moi South Lake road in Naivasha and there will be no parties along this road as part of security measures,” he said.

At the same time, Hassan called on those traveling for the rally and upcountry to observe traffic rules, adding that they expected heavy traffic over the weekend.

“We shall tow any car found parked by the roadside while those overlapping will have themselves to blame as their cars will be detained until Tuesday,” he said.

He called on licensed bar owners to observe the law and set time, adding that any club violating the law would be closed down.

Hassan spoke as local businesspeople complained there was little activity on the ground, which was not a good sign. 

According to Sam Mwaura, the number of local and international visitors was low compared to last year.

But with the closure of Moi South Lake Road, traders that were looking to sell alcohol will lose out again just like last year when revellers carried their own food and drinks and spent the night in their cars.

Another local trader, Samson Karanja, said they were in the dark over the location of business hubs during the rally with little information from the organisers.

He admitted that many have shied away from investing in the global event due to experience and lack of support from the county government and the organisers.

“In the past events we were updated on the routes and where to set up our wares but this time around many people are in darkness,” he said.

But the chairman of the Nakuru County Tourism Association David Mwangi was optimistic noting that the town was expecting over 100,000 visitors during the rally and the Easter holidays.

He said despite being a low season, hotels in Naivasha, Nakuru, and Gilgil were recording booming business as more visitors trooped in for the global event.

“Currently most of the hotels are 80 percent booked and they will hit 100 percent at the height of the rally which is a major boost for the economy,” he said.

Mwangi noted that failure to pay some of the suppliers in the previous events had affected this year’s rally with many traders pulling out.

“We held a meeting with the rally organisers over the pending bills which have affected many and we have been promised that this will be paid,” he said.

On his part, Kenya Wildlife Service assistant director Joseph Dadacha said robust measures had been put in place in Hells Gate National Park where the rally would be held.

 “We have set designated parking points for those coming to watch the rally and we are calling on travelers to avoid dumping waste in the park,” he said.

Dadacha downplayed fears dumping of waste would affect the park, adding that this had been addressed.

“We have enough portable toilets and garbage bins placed strategically along the spectators’ zone, with enough staff manning them and collecting any waste,” he said.

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