BONJOGE NATIONAL RESERVE A POTENTIAL TOURISM SITE IN NANDI
A section of Nandi rock
Nandi County is a well known tourism potential hub that has not been utilised. The county which is rich in many tourist attraction sites has been witnessing millions of money going uncollected due to poor policies layed by the former leadership in the county.
The county has various tourist attraction sites ranging from the famous Kingwal swamp which is the habitat of the rare species of antelopes called sitatunga, Nandi rock which iis in the border of Nandi county and kisumu county,Ngabunat caves,Keben springs, Kiplolok waters, Chepkiit water falls,tabolwa rock, Koitalel somoei mausoleum and Bonjoge national reserve.
Bonjoge National park is at the southern part of Nandi county in Aldai constituency. Having its roots from way back in 1970s, the park initially was a human settlement till 1983 when the retired president Daniel Moi advised the people to relocate to Bonjoge area to give room for the park to develop hence curbing the issue of encroachment.
The park since then has been under the management of Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS), Kenya Forest Service(KFS),County Council of Nandi and the entire Bonjoge community under an MoU that was reached.
In 1994, the park was converted into a Forest reserve by the Kenya Forest Service(KFS) through a gazzette notice No. 371. The move by KFS according to the Chief Warden Joel Kanda was wrong as it was done without consultation.
According to the officer the gazzette notice should be reviewed and he said they are looking for ways of how it can be reviewed adding that all parties were not involved.
It takes an individual only 2hrs to travel a distance of 56 kilometres southwards across the green tea scenary of Kaptumo and Savani tea estate. Marked with a good road network which links kapsabet to kobujoi,it only takes an hour to kobujoi before one branches further to the south also an hour drive to Bonjoge National reserve and the Nandi rock.
Before entering the place,one has to meet the Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) camp. The camp was build for the officers in the camp to oversee the security of the animals in the reserve.
KWS Chief warden in charge of both Nandi and Uasin Gishu Joel Kanda sees Nandi County as a ‘sleeping giant’ which has not realised its potential.Mr.Kanda adds that it is only through county government and the department of Tourism,culture and cooperative development that this potential tourist attraction site will be realised.
The officer reiterated that if the site is going to be utilised and properly used,the county will be among the richest counties in the North rift region.
“I can say that the amount of shillings which the county will get if they will utilise the site is about 3million shillings per month”, lamented Kanda.
The officer stated that with the existence of county government, he sees a situation in which the county will thrive in its economy only if good policies will be put in place to facilitate the proper utilisation of the sleeping touristism sites.
Mr. Kanda took for instance the issue of Bonjoge national reserve which he says it has different types of wild animals. Kanda added that the reserve is the habitat of animals ranging from primates,different variety of birds,small antelopes(bush becker),variety of snakes,hyena and leopards.
However, Mr.Kanda stated that he is happy that he has written a proposal to the office of governor on potential areas which can be tourist attraction sites and ways of improving the said places.
“We are ready to offer the expertise that we have on better ways of conserving these places”, said the chief warden.
The chief warden says that the county is very lucky because there is no National park in the North rift region and this could be an advantage to the county.
The officer added that the county is strategically placed as it is sorrounded by two international air ports which can be easy for tourist to land to Nandi County thus bringing in revenue which will boost the development of the county.
He said with the presence of Eldoret International Air port in uasin gishu county and Kisumu International Air port in Kisumu county, Nandi has absolutely a lee way of scaling the heights of prosperity and development. He stated that the facility is situated only 14 kilometres from kisumu town.
With enormous potential, the officer added that there is a great need to restock the park for it to attract many tourists as they engage the county government with talks on how to improve it.
However the officer adds that they face challenges from the community. He stated that the encroachment has been a rampant case and pleaded with the county government to draw a clear border with their help and place the beacons at the border as a way of drawing clear cutline.
The officer added that poor marketing strategy has been a major setback to the park. He said that proper marketing should be done and urged the county government to look for superb marketing strategies.
“If the park will be improved and well managed,the issue of unemployment which is a menace in the county will have been solved half way,” asserted the chief warden.
The issue of tourism in Nandi will bring alot of revenue and income to the county if the county government will seriously work on it. This comes at a time when Mr. James Kipchoge Kijo has been mandated to take over the department of Tourism,culture and cooperative development. However,Tourism will see the light of the day with the presents of county government.