From a weekend getaway destination with a beautiful view of the sunset, the site has remained a pale shadow of itself today.
With the rising waters of Lake Victoria damaging the roads, residents have left only memories of how they spent their weekend afternoons at Hippo Point in Kisumu County.
Magdaline Ndenda, who has run a restaurant at the site since 2018, said business at the once vibrant tourist site has slowed with just a handful of customers.
Ndenda said many people with vehicles are now avoiding Hippo Point due to the poor road network.
She regretted that only a few people still visit Hippo Point, especially on weekends, but it hasn’t helped develop business.
“We expect to make a small profit from sales at the end of the day, but very few people now visit Hippo Point. As now, lunchtime has already passed and I only sold food worth 250s. It is a very serious loss because I have someone here who is helping me and who has a little baby, ”Ndenda said.
She said the large potholes filled with water make guests prefer Dunga Beach, which is only a stone’s throw away and has a good road network.
“Most customers leave their vehicles by the side of the road because of the bad road. They don’t sit here for long periods of time like they used to. They are always worried about the safety of their vehicles. I urge the county or the national government to help us bring back this lost glory, ”she noted.
In the past, she made a profit of Sh4000 every day and paid her employee while coming home with money to buy food for her family.
She said businessmen at Hippo Point now only work until 6 pm due to the lack of light “which is very risky for anyone handling money”.
“When you walk a few meters from where we have set up our commercial structures, you will see how bushy it is. This area is also very dark at night and very insecure for any businessman handling money and also for his clients. We have solar in our structures but we cannot depend on them to light the whole place, ”she added.
The lack of social amenities also keeps visitors away from Hippo Point, which could otherwise be a good outdoor place for people to have fun while enjoying the lake breeze.
Richard Omonye, a businessman who deals in trinkets and also makes sculptures, said he has been in business since 2009, but this is the lowest time in terms of sales .
He started at Lwangni Beach before moving to Hippo Point in 2019. He said business was going very well at Hippo Point until Covid-19 was declared in the country.
Omonye added: “The ebb from Lake Victoria which damaged the road played a major role in the collapse of the once vibrant tourist site. People are reluctant to visit this place now. I also understand their plight. It is no longer easy to get to this place and now we have very few visitors coming here. ”
Titus Mulwa, who has worked as a freelance tour guide since his student days in 1994 at Hippo Point, said the site was once known around the world because it was so popular.
Mulwa said the county government had yet to improve the site years later after businessmen pulled out of the site. He also noted the confusion whether this site is still in county hands or owned by an individual.
Kisumu’s acting director of public communications John Oywa said the county government had identified Hippo Point as one of the tourist attractions along the lake.
“Our goal is to revive it and make it a more vibrant waterfront and recreation area. We have big plans for that and that includes improving the beach access road and building social amenities. The county government will take this into account in the next financial and budgetary report, “he said.
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