Kenya: Legacy of Safari Shaping Up Even Before WRC Race Returns

In a familiarisation tour of Naivasha by the WRC Safari Rally secretariat staff last Friday it emerged that one of the biggest beneficiary of the Safari will be the KWS Training Institute.

The institute is being transformed into a modern facility as the event's Service Park.

It is located 90km southwest of Nairobi in a serene environment teeming with zebra, warthog, and antelope where Kenyans are trained in wildlife management, tourism, hospitality management and fisheries.

The institute will be the nerve centre of the iconic Safari Rally for the next three years. It is being turned into a modern city in the savannah without interfering with the fragile ecosystem.

Renowned rally driver Kimathi Maingi has a Herculean task as head of logistics to ensure that the 64 containers bringing in equipment for manufacturer teams lands safely in Naivasha next year.

Maingi, a renowned speed merchant with a penchant to flip cars in high velocity stunts during his youth, together with Safari CEO Phineas Kimathi and Event Director Jim Kahumbura, will be expected to plan the arrival of the equipment with military precision.

The equipment will be shipped directly to Mombasa with paperwork done abroad and from the port hauled to Suswa railway station by two express SGR trains, and thereafter loaded into 64 prime movers to KWS Training Institute.

The SGR haulage has been praised by foreign teams as ideal for their operations

For the uninitiated, works teams have evolved and surpassed the monetary might of Toyota Team Europe of the 1980s and early 1990s, which used to bring their cars and parts in a Boeing 474 cargo plane. The 200 plus team members were flown in another chartered flight.

The legend goes that Toyota was committing in excess of Sh600 million in their Safari excursion according to the book "Safari Rally Kenya", by renowned photographer Reinhardt Klein commemorating the event's 50th anniversary.

In 2021 some of the big teams like Hyundai will put up their two-storey pre-fabricated headquarters complete with hospitality suites, meeting rooms and expo areas.

Unless otherwise, Maingi knows his groove and reckons that the job will be done as he is also well versed in logistics as a director of Kenya Railways.

He has a CPA 1 from Strathmore University and is the Managing Director of Kenya Tyres Distributors. He was previously the Managing Director of King Cargo Agencies from 1997 and 2007.

But for all these, it is unfortunate that politicians and administrators in Nakuru county are oblivious of the importance of the Safari, which will bring in much needed economic windfall valued at Sh7 billion by the WRC Promoter in the county.

Cities hosting major international sporting and cultural events not only fight for such opportunities but their administrators go out of the way to support such ventures and good examples abound. When one recalls the Olympic Games in the United States they remember Atlanta, which was gifted with Hartfield Jackson International Airport, now the busiest in the world. At full throttle, it has over 1,000 flights a day to 225 domestic and international destinations.

Apart from the KWS Training Institute upgrade, sleepy Nakuru County management seems to be unaware that the world of motorsport and television crew will descend into town in just under 12 months.

Equally worrying is the poor state of Moi South Road which will be the gateway to Hells Gate, Kedong, and Malewa competitive stages. The contractor arrived on location late last year and his snail speed work worrying. It looks like he will on-site forever.

Locals in Karagita area and hoteliers are crying for help from the potholes and blinding dust and lack of signage by a dozing contractor.

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