Nakuru County is partnering with the national government and World Vision Kenya, a nonprofit organisation to economically empower communities at Salgaa as a way of addressing social ills that plague the popular long distance truckers’ stopover along the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui noted that the collaboration aims at ending prostitution, child neglect, violence and substance abuse, vices that are entrenched at the busy trading centre just over 30 kilometers East of Nakuru Town.
Speaking when he inaugurated the Belbur Water Project in the region, Mr Kinyanjui said the initiative was mobilising funds that will improve infrastructure, promote access to education, clean water and sanitation and offer psychosocial support to families.
During the launch of the Sh15.3 million project, the Governor was accompanied by Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit and National Director, World Vision in Kenya Ms Lilian Dodzo.
Governor Kinyanjui said his administration has been working with other agencies in both the National and County governments and the private sector to facilitate potential investors willing to set shop at Salgaa through the establishment of a One-Stop Desk where they are issued with all the required documentation.
“We have in place deliberate and predictable policy interventions,” he stated.
The water project done jointly by the County Government, Nakuru Rural Water and Sanitation Services Company and World Vision will provide water to 550 homesteads in the area.
Governor Kinyanjui said Salgaa within Rongai Sub-County is a rich agricultural zone and his administration was actively engaging locals to grow crops that thrive in the region such as avocados, french beans, garden peas, maize, beans, vegetables and several other food crops.
“It is one of the breadbaskets of the cosmopolitan county because it experiences good rainfall across the year. We want to promote agricultural activities in the region so that the youth will have incomes and get too busy to venture into vices associated with this vibrant trading centre,” observed Mr Kinyanjui.
Salgaa derives its name from Kipsigis words Sal, which means praise, and gaa home. Thus in Kalenjin, it means praising one’s home.
He said his administration has set aside the initial Sh20 million for the Salgaa rescue kitty adding that the long term objective of the initiative was to protect children from effects of social vices they have been exposed to at the busy transport and business hub.
Archbishop Sapit challenged businessmen, sportsmen and public servants who grew up at Salgaa to take up the role of mentorship for the young boys and girls in the area.
“The youngsters need to know there are opportunities outside more than child labour, prostitution, violence, alcoholism which they have been exposed to.
“In partnering with the private sector and other development partners we will sensitise all parties and give alternative livelihood solutions to avert girls and women from engaging in prostitution. I urge security agencies to ensure all children of school going age attend classes,” said Arcbishop Sapit.
Ms Dodzo expressed optimism that Salgaa was gradually getting exorcised and had broken from its tarnished reputation after more than 12 local and multinational firms set shop in the area.
The latest entrant is the National Cement a subsidiary of Devki Group, put up at a cost of over Sh2 billion which has offered employment to over 700 people directly and a further 3,000 indirectly.
She indicated that manufacturing entities at Salgaa had the potential to create more than 20,000 jobs directly.
“The location of Salgaa, land availability and development patterns are among the factors that have attracted investors here,” added Ms Dodzo.
Kinyanjui said the continued improvement of road infrastructure including construction of two interchanges along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret and the proposed SGR line to Naivasha will ease transportation to and from the County, which he said is vital for industrialisation.
Last year, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock Limited pumped Sh3 billion into the county in its newest factory a few kilometers from Salgaa Trading Centre.
By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto