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County keen to tap into tourism

Nakuru County Government is crafting public-private partnerships pacts aimed at promoting and tapping into the tourism potential in the Central Rift Circuit.

Nakuru City Manager (CCM) Gitau Thabanja asked stakeholders in the multi-billion sector to take advantage of the rich networks provided by the devolved unit’s tourism leadership, saying the Central Rift circuit had the potential to compete with other circuits such as the coast region.

While citing the many tourist attraction sites including game reserves, and volcanic mountains among others, the CCM said the nearly complete Lanet International Airport will be a catalyst to tourism activities as it will host many Airlines, and allow local and foreign tourists to continue to flock to the County.

Speaking after leading deliberations between the Nakuru Creative Sector Working group and the Director of Hyrax Hills Prehistoric Museum Fredrick Manthi, the City Manager said the County Government was working with various stakeholders in scouting for donors to revitalise the museum’s 103-year-old infrastructure and establishing heightened security surveillance of the cultural monument.

The famous archaeological site which has since placed Kenya on the map as the home of Early Man opened its doors in 1920, to host rich history and has since inspired history and geography lessons in schools. The museum was declared a national monument in 1945 but opened its doors to the public in 1965.

“This year marks 103 years of the existence of this archaeological site that is just another classroom for thousands of learners across the country,” Mr Thabanja said.

The City Manager underscored the need for public-private partnerships in promoting Nakuru’s tourism industry, adding that while the museum has been a source of knowledge on early humans, the number of visitors touring the site has been low, a move which has also seen a raft of initiatives in place to boost the numbers.

The Director of the Hyrax pre-historic site Mr Fredrick Manthi said the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) through the City Management had undertaken to promote the city’s heritage adding that the State Corporation was committed to preserving and showcasing Nakuru’s cultural heritage for future generations.

Hyrax Hill is part of the critical, geologically rich areas in Rift Valley that provide tales of historical footprints left behind by early man. It also boasts of a rich history of volcanic activities and information on the formation of the Rift Valley.

The site is also part of patches of archaeological sites that make Kenya and especially the Rift Valley a hotbed of archaeological discoveries alongside the Kariandusi Archeological site in Gilgil.

Hyrax hills museum is named after hyraxes that lived in the rocks within and is famous for keeping the history of the Sirikwa people who are believed to have been assimilated by the Maasai community.

“Apart from learners from primary and secondary schools, we also have students in higher learning institutions studying archaeology and history coming over,” Mr Manthi, added.

The museum has since been an archaeological research area and reference point for pre-historical investigations. It is also believed to be the first Acheulian site to be discovered in the region.

Records from the museum however reveal low visitation despite the critical role in the education sector with the bulk of visitors being learners.

With charges as low as Sh100 for an adult local citizen and Sh50 for a child charged in these sites, locals still miss out with visitors barely making it to 30,000 in a year.

The Hyrax hills was proclaimed a national monument in 1945 and opened to the public in 1965 but despite the significance it has, it has lost two and a half acres of its over 50 acres of land to squatters.

By Esther Mwangi and Sam Karanja

 

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