Naivasha: The Rising Flamingo

Naivasha town, located on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, is perhaps one urban centre that has hit newspaper headlines for the wrong reasons.

Ironically, it produces some of the best flowers in the world, mainly roses. But many are the times when the ‘thorns’ and not the roses hit the headlines.

Within the lakeside town, is beauty, breath taking sceneries and hotels that have attracted dignitaries from across the globe.

The geothermal power plants near Hells Gate National Park have put Naivasha on the world map as a source of natural energy tapped from the geysers.

In the last one year, the town with a population of around 400,000 has been in the news for bad news ranging from rape and murder to a story of a vampire on the loose.

The town is still recovering from the effects of post-election violence.

Local leaders have pointed an accusing finger at the media, which they feel has been hyperactive in reporting the negative occurrences only.

origin of name

The name Naivasha is a corruption of the Maasai word E-na-iposha (meaning ‘leaving waters’).

Mr Joseph Thomson was the first European to see Lake Naivasha in 1884. Between 1937 and 1950 the fresh water lake was used as a landing place for passenger planes destined for Nairobi.

The ‘flying boat’ from London would land on the lake where the Lake Naivasha Country Club now stands, and travellers would then board a bus to Nairobi.

Visitors enjoy a boat ride on Lake Naivasha.

Naivasha has had the honours of hosting international figures like the former US Secretary of State Collins Powell and former South Africa head of State Thabo Mbeki.

Naivasha hit international headlines during the Sudan peace talks that heralded the signing of the peace accord and the swearing in of the late John Garang’ as the Vice-President of Sudan.

The Olkaria I and II power plants which produce geothermal energy lies a few kilometres from Lake Naivasha.

Bordering the power plant is the renowned Hells Gate National Park that is home to tens of wild animals and camping sites.

On the highway is the multi-million shilling Keroche Breweries, the first locally owned beer factory.

Down the Karate Hills is the Naivasha GK Prison, which has hosted many people, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Local DC Mohamed Birik says Naivasha town earns billions of shillings to the Exchequer through flower exports and tourism.

Large population

The town has more than 50 flower farms that act as the lifeline to the large population.

On the Moi South Lake Road, acres of greenhouses that stretch out on the shores of the lake, tell the story of a multi-million shilling investment that supply the West with roses and carnations. With an estimated population of 400,000, one in seven people in Naivasha gains directly or indirectly from the flower farms.

“The area falls under the tourism circuit and has major resources like KenGen that has a capacity to produce 7,000MW which is beyond the country’s needs.”

Mr Birik says plans are underway to make the town a 24-hour-business centre, since security has been intensified with crime dropping by more than 20 per cent.

Major streets

Currently, Panda Flowers and the Naivasha Municipal Council are erecting streetlights on major streets and on the highway.
The main entrance to Hells Gate National Park. Photo: Antony Gitonga /Standard

He says main Government departments have offices in the district headquarters thus bringing service closer to wananchi.

“Plans are underway to construct a multi-million shilling district headquarters in the next financial year, while a new law courts complex is in its last stages,” he told The Standard.

Naivasha OCPD Willy Lugusa says no town can boast of being crime-free.

“The crime rate has dropped to its lowest level ever,” he says.

The town boasts one of the best community policing projects, which has assisted in fighting crime. Best known as NCP (Naivasha Community Project), it has assisted many people.

With security assured, revellers from as far as Nairobi, Nyeri and even Mombasa troop to the lakeside town in droves every weekend.

Hotels like Lake Naivasha Country Club, Sopa Lodge, Simba Lodge, Panorama, Great Rift, Cray Fish, and Fisherman’s Camp among others have become major resorts attracting hundreds of revellers.

Every weekend, luxury cars, hired mini-buses and even motorcycles are spotted heading to the town for camping.

At the same time the town has become a hub of local and international seminars.

The General Manager of Lake Naivasha Country Club Gomeri Kombo says the serene atmosphere and high-class hotels attract visitors.

Mr Kombo, a seasoned manager, says Naivasha is the ‘second coast’ to go to after Mombasa.

He says Lake Naivasha, Hells Gate National Park and a range of good hotels draw visitors.

“Visitors from Nairobi can commute to their work places as it takes only one hour by road,” he adds.

Local MP John Mututho says Naivasha contributes three per cent to the GDP.

Growing town

“Naivasha is one of the fastest growing towns in Rift Valley,” he says.

A trader, Mr Peter Nguro says the flower farms have played a key role in the town’s development.

“There is so much money in circulation courtesy of flower farms,” says Nguro.

Currently the town is getting a facelift. Roads are getting re-carpeted and the drainage system is been redone

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