Mombasa risks losing its island status if reclamation of the Kibarani dumpsite is allowed to continue and that would hurt tourism, Governor Hassan Joho has warned.
His administration yesterday announced it is compiling a list of beneficiaries of the grabbed land. The county will build a green park at the site. County officers are to meet with the National Land Commission today before a notice is issued on revocation of titles.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday ordered the cancellation of titles. This came after it emerged that about 80 acres are in private hands. He supported construction of a recreational facility. Mombasa is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. The tourism sector is a huge foreign exchange earner and employs many people.
Joho on Monday said more than 10 people were allocated the parcel. He said half of the land has been reclaimed.
“The channel between Makupa and the port is small. If that is allowed to continue, Mombasa ceases being an island,” he said in an interview with KTN Prime.
Joho said the land was grabbed about 30 years ago.
“There is absolutely no way someone would get an allocation of land that goes deep into the sea,” he said.
He said fish landing sites have also been allocated to private developers, disrupting the lives of more than 200 Makupa creek fishermen and their dependents.
Lands executive Edward Nyale yesterday said water cannot flow freely and fish cannot breed as they suffocate. “All the mangroves have been destroyed,” he said.
Tudor and Makupa Beach Management Unit secretary Mwavita Hamisi said many fishermen have moved to Port Reitz, Likoni and Kwale after fish stocks at the creek reduced due to reclamation and poisoning from the dumpsite. He said the reclamation of part of the sea drove a wedge between the private developers and the fishermen.
Nyale said the county’s registry has been closed to allow scrutiny of irregularly awarded parcels. He said open spaces have been shrinking due to encroachment.
“This is a problem we’ve been battling since 2013,” Nyale said.
Big Ship, an environmental lobby, said the degradation of mangrove forests in Mombasa hurts conservation. Director Bosco Juma said the firms reclaiming the parcel have never carried out an environmental impact assessment before starting construction.