Curio dealers in Nakuru are blaming hard economic times facing Kenyans and terrorist attacks for the looming death of their ventures.
From taking home Sh10,000 a day at the height of business in the early 90s, today going home empty-handed for almost even a week is the order of the day.
In its heyday, Subukia boomed with tourists in transit from Mt Kenya and the Aberdares to Lake Nakuru stopping to get a glimpse of the Great Rift Valley.
A visit to the site last week revealed the sorry state of the viewpoint as there was not a single visitor in sight. Some curio shops have been closed and those still alive are putting on a brave face, but with eminent collapse in the air.
Mr Samuel Makori who has been selling curios at Subukia Viewpoint along Nakuru-Nyahururu highway for the past 15 years has seen the rise and subsequent fall of business in this escarpment.
“We started experiencing lack of business the first time Kenya was bombed in 1998. Since then, several attacks by Al-Shabaab are what has killed our business because tourists no longer stop here to buy our products,” Mr Makori said in an interview.
He adds that although they are forced to depend on locals, things have also not been rosy because of the hard economic times facing Kenyans.
“Although Kenya reduced its park entry rates, that has not assisted in any way because we mainly depended on tourists from Aberdare forest and Mt Kenya heading to Lake Nakuru. They would stop here for this view point to see the Great Rift Valley. Nowadays you can only get one vehicle stopping here for a week,” Mr Makori says.
Mr David Onderi from Kisii has been selling curios here since 1985 and he recalls how business was good back then. He has helplessly seen business going down the drain, he adds.
“I’ve been selling curios here for the last 34 years, and in the previous years, business was good. With the British and American tourists giving Kenya a wide berth after the height of terrorist attacks in the country, we faced challenges that have failed to go away,” Mr Onderi says.
He blames some tour drivers whom he accuses of sending tourists to buy curios elsewhere.
“The problem is again on our tour drivers. Sometimes tourists come but whenever they want to stop and sample our curios, the drivers refuse to stop and with that we again lose business,” he says.
Similar sentiments were shared by Simon Kamotho who has for the last 10 years seen the best and worst of this business. Like Mr Onderi, Mr Kamotho also blames local tour drivers for their woes.
“I’ve worked here for almost 10 years, but we’re facing the worst challenge because tourists no longer stop here to buy our products. But the problem is our tour drivers who fail to stop and allow tourist to buy goods.
“Sometimes the drivers stop us from selling our curious to the tourists. We are our own enemies,” Mr Kamotho says.