Meanwhile, Tourism CS Najib Balala literally crossed the path of photojournalists when he flung himself right in front of their cameras in an attempt to capture a moment at the ramp.
“Waziri unatuzuia. Acha kupiga picha na simu tutakutumia picha zile ziko na high resolution,” bellowed a voice from the deafening discontented murmurs. Unfazed by the protests, Balala dug in and took a couple of shots, then back-peddled while beaming off a broad smile, perhaps meant to appease the
After exchanging pleasantries with the drivers, the president made his way back to the dais where he slumped onto his seat awaiting the main agenda of the day. A few minutes later, ODM leader Raila Odinga arrived dressed in a sleek navy blue suit and a cream hat with a black strip covering his head. But the former prime minister left about an hour later.
Finally, the moment came. Among competitors flagged off by President Kenyatta was rallying great, Sobieslaw Zasada who made a return to tackle the iconic Safari Rally at the age of 91. He slowly made his way back into the vehicle in the same way he had come out to greet the president.
One by one, the machines roared off as some of the younger drivers slowed down to drool over the three beauties who had been stationed a few meters from the ramp to make the event more juicy.
But none was more pleased with the event than CEO of WRC Safari Rally Phineas Kimathi who was not celebrating the return of the event to the world calendar but also the debut of his son McRae Kimath as competitor.
And amidst the rising adrenaline levels, pomp and glamour and the accompanying economic boost, President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a passionate plea to Kenyans to help the government reduce rising fatalities on roads by observing more caution.
The President made the remarks on Thursday while flagging off the 2021 World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally at the Kenyatta International Convention Center, Nairobi.
“This occasion, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a great and timely moment for me. The issue of road safety has been a matter of concern for me personally and for the Government for a while.
“We know for a fact that Kenya’s population, as well as its motorization, has been increasing over the years. While these are positive changes, we have however, witnessed more road accidents, as citizens traverse the country, to build the nation and feed their families,” said Uhuru.
Uhuru said over 3,000 people lost their lives through road carnage, with hundreds others experiencing serious injuries in 2019.
“The groups that are most affected by road accidents are pedestrians, motorcyclists and passengers; who, beyond the statistics, are our parents, siblings, children and citizens of our beloved nation.”
“Their misfortunes are often compounded by heavy medical care bills; which, in the long term, negatively affect their financial health, add pressure to the country’s healthcare system and the economy.”
His Administration, he said, has taken several road safety measures, intended to curb road accidents, adding that he was pleased to announce an additional initiative, known as the “Safari Rally Action for Road Safety Campaign”.
“This project, will promote road safety, through education and the provision of protective gear to our motorists. These measures will in turn, raise awareness on the adverse impacts of road accidents, and reduce the injuries on our roads.”
“I am pleased to note, so far, through this initiative, 1,000 young people have received road safety training. Many other young people from the Bodaboda community are set to receive refresher riding skills and road use information.”
The President said the legacy project had also attracted international partners; the FIA and the Hungarian Motor sport Development Agency (HUMDA), whose support, through the provision of 6,300 helmets to the boda boda riders, will help in enhancing road safety within the country.
“As the government fulfill it obligations in enhancing road safety, I must also emphasize the need for responsible road use among citizens. Let us be our brother’s keepers and promote safe road user behaviour.”