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Organisation promotes cycling for Busia students

What began as support to enable students to trek long distances to school from seven-day secondary schools in Busia is proving to bear more fruit.

The seven secondary schools were supported by Grow Against Poverty (GAP) Kenya by providing pedal power for students.

At least 63 students participated in the cycling competition from Busia County Commissioner’s office premises, to Nasira Secondary School in Nambale Sub-county on Saturday.

Lydia Andota, the Principal of St. Peters Buyosi Secondary School, says that 50 students who benefited from the project have shown improvement in terms of attendance and class performance.

“Today’s cycling competition has also motivated students to know that they have talents in cycling, which can be tapped into income-generating activities in the future,’ she says.

Andota opines that those who participated in the cycling competition can become professional cyclists.

“Cycling as a talent has not been so much appreciated across the country, but if such talents can be identified early and nurtured, then it can be a good form of not only sports but also a source of income.

Meshack Anguka, a student from St. Peters Buyosi, who participated in the cycling competition and clinched position one, says that the exercise has enabled him to keep fit physically.

“In the future, I want to participate in the International cycling completion,” he says.

Joyce Mwitani, another beneficiary from Our Lady of Mercy, thanked GAP Kenya for the support.

A professional cyclist in Busia says that if the students are nurtured well, they can become professional cyclists.

“As an Organisation, we can take them into our group and nurture them so that they can become better,” he says.

He encouraged female students to embrace cycling, noting that a number of the local residents associate cycling with poverty.

The official explained that bicycles are climate-friendly because they do not emit any pollutants into the atmosphere.

Hellen Mukanda, Executive Director of Grow Against Poverty Kenya (GAP KE), urged students to embrace the use of bicycles and not buses so as to reduce carbon emissions.

“We will be doing tree planting today, and in the short rains we will be doing 10,000 trees, and every year we will be planting 1 million trees,” she said.

Mukanda appealed to the government to recognise the effort of the children and register them for carbon credits so they could benefit from the incentives that come with climate change mitigation.

Grow Against Poverty –Kenya has supported seven schools in Busia County including St. Matthias Boys Secondary School, Our Lady of Mercy Girls , St Peters Buyosi Mixed Secondary School, St Peters Igero, Mary Immaculate Nambale Urban, St. Mary’s Nambale, and Mabunge RC.

A total of Sh. 7.8 million has been spent by the Organisation on providing pedal power for Kenyan students, translating to 365 bicycles and the necessary accompanying accessories.

The Saturday cycling competition by 63 selected beneficiary students saw the winners and best performers awarded sports bicycles, while runners-up and the top ten students received full term three school fee payments by the organisation.

During the official launch of Sports for Climate Action by Sports Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ababu Namwamba, in Murang’a County in June this year, the organiser of the Madaraka Edition Cycling Competition in Murang’a, Alex Tibwitta, said there is a lot of untapped potential in cycling, where young people can benefit and earn money out of it.

Tibwitta said no single national cycling event has ever been organised in the country, despite the thousands of cyclists.

“We urge the government to recognise cycling as one of the sports activities and also inject some funds to support the sector,” said Tibwitta.

He said the country has some of the best cycling sites, which can help the participants perfect their skills to compete in both national and international competitions.

Tibwitta also urged people to embrace cycling as a way of keeping fit and reducing air pollution by using environmentally friendly bicycles.

Zack Gichane, from Aberdare Cottages, the main facilitator for the event, said the majority of local cyclists look for opportunities outside the country, where the sport is embraced and recognised.

He said about 20 cyclists are in the USA and UK for different competitions, adding that the government should consider organising such events, which would also help generate revenue for the country.

“Some of the best cyclists in the country go to international competitions because they are able to make good money out of it,” said Gichane.

“There is untapped potential in cycling, and I think it’s high time the government considers focusing on it,” he remarked.

The race has attracted 60 cyclists, both locals and foreigners, who cycled for 73 kilometres.

Some of the participants called for enhanced safety guidelines for cyclists on the road, among them the establishment of cycling lanes.

They said poor infrastructure is a major challenge for cyclists, as in most cases they are harassed by motorists who feel they don’t have equal rights on the road.

By Salome Alwanda and Victoria Magar

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