Once a pride of the region- Birds, wild animals take over abandoned Turkwel State Lodge

The long abandoned Turkwel State Lodge
  • Turkwel state lodge; former President Moi stayed at facility twice in the ‘90s
  • President Mwai Kibaki never visited the house during his 10-year reign.
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta is yet to visit the lodge
  • The lodge housed State officers and other dignitaries visiting the area
  • Insecurity along the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties has been blamed for the current state of affairs at Turkwel State Lodge

 

Once upon a time, the Turkwel State Lodge was one of the most highly-priced facilities in the county.

It was heavily guarded and its rooms were well furnished. Well-manicured lawns and lush gardens were a sight to behold, attracting admiration and awe from residents.

The lodge housed State officers and other dignitaries visiting the area.

But all that is gone now. The fleets of high-end vehicles that parked outside almost daily are nowhere to be seen.

Instead, an eerie silence envelopes the compound that is overgrown with grass and weeds.

Wild animals have literally taken over the dilapidated building. The roof is leaking and parts of it have been destroyed by ants. Bats and birds have also built their nests in the roof.

There are no longer any bathtubs or showers and local residents have also vandalised the fittings and equipment in the lodge. Anyone visiting must be careful lest pieces of wood and other ceiling material dangling from the roof land on their heads.

A section of the dilapidated floor of Turkwel State Lodge

Residents as well as animals roam the compound freely unlike in the past, when the lodge was guarded by heavily armed General Service Unit police officers.

“No one stays in the lodge these days. We would have loved to see President Uhuru Kenyatta sleep at Turkwel but due to the state of the facility, we have missed that opportunity,” said Wilson Korinyanga, a resident of the area.

Joseph Korkimul, who worked as a security guard at the nearby Turkwel gorge between 2000 and 2010, said the area once attracted tourists from all over the country.

Casual workers

Mr Korkimul said casual workers who cleared the bushes around the lodge earned Sh100 per day back then.

“Right now, the place is neglected. It is sad because it used to employ members of the community. I used to guard the place and the contractor would pay me Sh4,000 per month.”

But Korkimul quit his job n 2011, after bandits invaded the lodge. He later became the Kases sub-chief.

Insecurity and cattle rustling along the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties have largely contributed to the current state of affairs at the lodge.

The insecurity has also seen workers at the nearby Turkwel Hydroelectric Power project flee the area. Some of them settled in nearby towns such as Kitale. Many people have also been killed in incidents of banditry.

The dilapidated roof of Turkwel State Lodge in West Pokot County

“The lodge has been left to wild animals who roam freely. We also graze our goats in the compound. I would have wished to see my grandchildren interact with tourists coming to the facility,” said Mary Lokor, another resident.

The lodge, situated 120km from Kapenguria town, twice hosted retired President Daniel arap Moi in the 1990s, including when he officially launched the Kengen power plant.

In 2006, former Vice President Moody Awori also stayed at the lodge when he was the guest of honour during athlete Tegla Lorupe’s peace marathon at Turkwel Gorge.

Abandoned Turkwel State Lodge

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo and other county leaders visited the lodge recently and said the county government would work with Kerio Valley Development Authority to renovate it.

He said the facility would be used to host seminars and conferences to help generate revenue for the county.

“We want everything to be done locally. The facility, which is near the all-attractive Turkwel Dam, was handed over to the county government last year,” the governor said.

 

Cost of renovating State houses and lodges

  • State House Nairobi: Sh43 million
  • State House Mombasa: Sh10 million
  • State House Nakuru: Sh200 million
  • Eldoret State Lodge: Sh18 million
  • Kakamega State Lodge: Sh5 million
  • Sagana State Lodge: Sh10 million

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