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‘We made a killing from Vasha safari rally’

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In her hawking career spanning more than three years, Mary Wanja has hardly made more than Sh1,500 a day.

But during the recently held World Rally Championship Safari Rally in Naivasha, she went home Sh8,000 richer.

She is still savouring her experiences hawking consumables during the global motorsport event.

Rallying enthusiasts trooping to Naivasha got caught up in a traffic jam on the Naivasha-Nairobi highway and that was how Lady Luck smiled on the mobile vendor.

“I initially went to sell soda and cakes but realised the chilly weather was taking a toll on a number of them,” she explained.

She quickly decided to walk to her house, pick a mini cooker and buy some milk before she rushed back and started hawking tea with cakes.

“It turned out to be a stroke of genius with thirsty and hungry rally fans trooping to my place to grab a cup of steaming tea,” she added.

She also made coffee, which proved to be the most popular beverage for the despairing lot caught up in traffic for more than three hours.

“I stayed glued to my selling point up to midnight before I retired to bed, cash-rich and happy,” she told the Nation.

Trader Alex Kinyanjui, whose kiosk is located on the busy Kenyatta Avenue, was also a beneficiary of the world sporting event.

“I was busy throughout the rallying weekend. The sales were good compared to what I’m accustomed to,” he said.

“It was extremely impossible to make that kind of cash during the coronavirus period. Holding the rally in the lakeside town was a blessing,” he said.

Boda boda operator Newton Barasa Bwaku made Sh2,500, up from Sh800 that he makes on a normal day.

“The first day of the rally I made Sh3,000 ferrying customers from Naivasha town to their preferred destinations,” said the motorcyclist with a smile written all over his face.

Boda boda operator Newton Barasa Bwaku.

Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Those he was ferrying to the spectators’ stage in Soysambu in Gilgil coughed up Sh800 each to make the trip, with Mr Bwaku managing to make two trips.

Those headed to the iconic Hell’s Gate National Park were paying Sh500 to be dropped off at the main entrance.

Many preferred to use motorcycles to escape the snarl-up, with rally organisers directing that the spectators be at the designated places two hours before the event.

“I cannot complain. I made money from the sporting event. I was not the only one, many of my colleagues reaped big,” he said.

He is encouraged by the fact that the motorsport event will be returning to the country next year and is looking forward to a similar return or even better tidings.

The manager of Viewers Park Hotel, Mercy Rahab, said hoteliers made handsome returns during the WRC event, citing the standard hotel she heads.

“We were able to hire out all the 86 rooms at double the usual price and the return on investment was good. Even the local hoteliers had a moment to remember,” she said.

Mercy Rahab. She is the manager of Viewers Park Hotel in Naivasha.

Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group

“Some of us were able to recoup losses made during the coronavirus period. The pandemic had wreaked havoc on the industry and a good number of hoteliers were operating on incurred debts.”

She was upbeat about the future event, with Kenya expected to host the rally up to 2026.

Opened a day earlier to the WRC event, the centrally placed Leyain Grills was the place of choice for young rally lovers.

Revellers flocked to the outlet for roast chicken, with the facility’s director David Karuga admitting that the sales were good.

“The business was thriving and having opened the doors only a day earlier, it was quite encouraging,” he said.

A majority of the traders, especially those in the hospitality industry, smiled all the way to the bank as Vasha (a nickname for Naivasha) proved to be the focal point during the rally event.

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