The main intersection in Lumakanda. The four main roads have now all been paved. While we only got stuck once in the last twelve years, we frequently had to stop or edge around other vehicles which had slid off the roadway. In the dry season there is not as much dust from the road and in the rainy season the vehicle and its wheels do not get so full of mud.
Gladys and I have lived in Lumakanda now for twelve years. How has the town changed during those years? What progress has been made?
The lifeline of Lumakanda is due to the fact that it is the government seat of Lugari Sub-County. The various government offices not only bring direct employment but numerous spin off activities that support businesses in town. Most of the government officials rent the many one room apartments that dot the town. They also buy food and other consumer items in the shops. The motorcycle taxi drivers thrive on the business of bringing people from throughout Lugari Sub-County to conduct their business with the local government. With this base the town is able to support a significant amount of commercial activity.
One of the major improvement was the establishment of a bank. While it actually a branch of the teachers’ cooperative society, it is also a branch of Cooperative Bank, one of the bigger banks in Kenya. The green door on the right is the entrance to an ATM machine which is very useful. Alas, though, it is sometimes out of money and I have to come back the next day or two to withdraw cash.
I estimate that the town has roughly doubled in size during these last twelve years. Its actual area has not increased much, but rather many of the vacant plots have been built up. There are still a good number of available building plots.
Note the shop on the right with the sign “Budget Driving School.” People can now be taught to drive in the town. Not everything is a plus though. Look at the blue sign on the left side. It reads, “Betin,” which with the advent of smart phones promotes sports betting which has become a major activity for young males in Kenya.
Twelve years ago, except for the old settler’s house, there were no two-story or higher buildings in town. This was the first three story-building in town. Another three-story building is being constructed and there are some other two-story buildings. Note the office on the ground floor “Kenya Power.” This is the local electricity company. Formerly if we had an issue we would have to go to Eldoret or Kakamega to resolve it, but now we can do it right in town. More importantly is the fact that, when there is a power outage, it can be fixed quickly rather than the sometimes one to three days it took before the power company had a presence in town. The second and third floors are “Cambridge University College,” a private college like the many that are popping up all over Kenya. The boy in the front is our grandson, Brian, and the girl on the left is our grand-niece, Trinah.
With funds from the World Bank, a new water system was installed in place of the one built in the 1950s when the Europeans owned Lumakanda. The smaller tank on the right is the old tank, while the new one is the big one on the left. Not only was the water system extended considerably but the availability of water has increased, although they don’t open our water line every day so we need tanks to store water. On the right is the Safaricom cell phone tower. When we moved in, we frequently had to go outside and stand in a particular spot in order to get a cell phone connection. With the new tower, we have no problem with service from Safaricom even when sitting in our house.
Another new two-story building which has only a few shops rented. The sign on the top floor is for a dental clinic, the first in town. There is also a new optician’s shop in town.
This building has just been completed and is still vacant. On the right facing the road are two shops while behind them are four one-room rentals. Left of that is the latrine. There are many shops and one-room rentals that have been built over the last twelve years, sometimes replacing older sub-standard buildings. People here do not borrow money to build but rather start when they have some funds, continue as they receive more until the building is complete. Therefore there is no mortgage payment so if the building remains vacant for awhile there is no financial loss and the building continues to be an asset that could be sold if necessary. Note in the picture to the left is a pile of bricks in the vacant lot. Presumably as finances allow the owner is planning on building something on this lot.
This is a new house under construction next door to us. When we built our first house in Lumakanda, it was one of the nicer houses in town. Over the years many comparable houses have been built and this one will be significantly nicer than ours when completed. Note the indoor garage on the right side.
This is one of the three small gas/petrol stations in town. When we moved to Lumakanda, there were none. These gas stations mostly fuel the motorcycle taxi drivers and the diesel tractors. There were only about fifty motorcycle taxi drivers when we moved to Lumakanda but now there are hundreds. When we bought our first private vehicle a year after we moved to town, private vehicles were rare. Now they are quite common. The car on the right is owned by the man who lives behind these shops.
There were many churches in town when we moved here. Many including the Quaker Church have been refurbished over the years. This is the new Deliverance Church which has not yet been completed. It is quite impressive, particularly because it replaced a small, hot corrugated iron structure.
In summary as you can see from the pictures, Lumakanda town has developed considerably in the last twelve years. Many of the developments have made life easier for us and the other inhabitants of Lumakanda.
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