I have been in Voi town for over a week now and I believe its wise to jot down a post about this relatively remote town along the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. Am down here on assignment with AVIC Kenya at Coast Institute of Technology where we are conducting a training for various TVET teachers in a Mechatronic Engineering course which is being offered in Chinese by Chinese teachers. This training has been running for the last 3 months so am just here for the last 1 month or so as an interpreter for Chinese–English and vice versa.
Voi is the largest town in Taita-Taveta County in southern Kenya. It lies at the western edge of the Taru Desert, south and west of the Tsavo East National Park. Is 600m above sea level with an average temp of 25C. The Sagala Hills are to the south. To get to Voi, one can use road or rail transport. Voi has a train station where you can get a train to Nairobi and Mombasa at good prices. Voi town is a developing town duw to the influx of tourists to the neighboring Tsavo East National Park. However this time is often regarded as low season and tourists numbers are very few. Voi sits along the highway and borders two national parks – Tsavo West National Park and Tsavo East National Park.
Sangala Hills outside Voi town. To the Left is towards Mombasa direction, while the Right direction is towards Nairobi(Capital). Voi Railway Station and the Nairobi-Mombasa highway are located at the foot of the hills and can be viewed in the distance.
This training is part of AVIC Kenya and MoE Kenya to equip and train local TVET institutions. The teachers are drawn from accross the country and are being trained on Mechatronic Engineering practical and theoretical classes. AVIC has equipped the labs with new tech equipment which the teachers are using for training. On top of that AVIC has provided teachers and professors from China to come and train them. Here is where I come in to translate the classes live as the Chinese professors teach. Its a very interesting assignment since I learn alot. Its the same work I was doing at Kiambu Institute of Technology last week for Electrical Engineering.
Mechatronics equipment used for training.
Coast Institute of Technology - CIT
Coast Institute of Technology is situated in Tsavo area 2km away from Voi Town in Taita Taveta County and in proximity to nature, a quiet environment and expansive compound.The college offers market driven Diplomas, Craft Certificates, Artisan Certificates and Short courses in both Business and Technical programs.
The training is very intensive. In one day we cover alot of content and this makes the interpretation sometimes very tiring. In class, we use the live interpretation system where I stand next to the Chinese teacher and interpret as he talks. Prior preview of the content before the class helps with the interpretation but sometimes nothing can prepare you for the tough words that engineering has.
I will be staying at Voi Wildlife Lodge which is at the edge of the Tsavo East National Park. Its located in the Savannah grasslands of the park, 5km from Voi Town. The hotel was started in 2003 and sits on a 25-acre piece of land at the border of the park. The hotel has a natural waterhole which often attracts big game, including elephants, buffalo, lions and cheetahs. The accommodation, food and service is awesome. One drawback however is the wifi(only at the bar) and poor mobile reception especially in the rooms. In my room I barely get 2G data service and sometimes its completely gone. Such has taught me how to work off-line. Entrance to Voi Wildlife Lodge
Voi Railway Station part of the SGR railway passes outside the town and its quite hectic getting there. The station is quite a distance from Voi town. From Voi town, one can take a taxi or motorbike to get to the station. From the station to the hotel it was Ksh.1000. But if you take a 3 wheeled tuk-tuk its Ksh. 200. One thing I noticed was that the taxi, boda-boda and tuk-tuk operators know what time the train will arrive, so they will race to the station as the train approaches, then after 15mins when all the passengers have boarded, the station becomes empty and solace once again. In Voi town once can get buses or boda-boda to any town around Voi or Tsavo National Park.
Voi has a relatively warm weather. Its quite warm and one sweats alot. Most of the classes have fans installed for cooling. During the night, it gets quite cold. Among the insects that caught my attention is the rhinoceros beetle which can grow to large sizes. There is also a type of brown beetle which likes to play dead when in danger.
The Kenya Pipeline pipe crosses at some point outside Voi town. I had not noticed it until our driver pointed to it at a road crossing where there was a concrete slab which forced drivers to slow down and has makings of letter P on both sides. A look into the horizon shows neat bush clearance as if something waded through . On Google maps I could see the pipe’s clearing as it headed to Nairobi in the Northern direction. The point of crossing is -3.371780, 38.592795
This pipeline system was commissioned in February 1978 and consists of 450km 14-inch diameter pipeline, eight pump stations and a flow rate of over 830,000 litres per hour. Currently, we are in the process of replacing this aging 14-inch line with a 20-inch line from Mombasa to Nairobi that is expected to meet demand for petroleum products for Kenya and the region until the year 2044. The flow rates to Nairobi for the new line will be about 1.9 million liters per hour by 2023 and 2.6 million liters per hour by 2044.
Thats all about Voi for now, more to come later.