MOMBASA, Kenya, Aug 17 – Coast rights lobby groups, Muslim for Human Rights (MUHURI) and Haki Africa, on Friday blasted the Mombasa County Government and National Environment Management Authority for ‘shielding’ the construction of a multi-billion shilling beach hotel that has encroached on the Indian Ocean.
Both Mombasa County government Lands Executive Edward Nyale and Mombasa County NEMA Stephen Wambua were being cagey on whether the property has encroached on the beach and if it has all proper approvals, the owner and total acreage of the land.
“We will deploy our officers to investigate all the issues raised. We cannot just give out statement without doing our research,” said Nyale.
Wambua said a detailed report about the property will be out by the end of Friday.
“We have just arrived here, allow us to do our work,” said Wambua.
Khelef Khalifa, chairperson of MUHURI, who had accompanied the team, accused NEMA and Mombasa County Government of “beating around the bush.”
Khalifa said there is not way an ordinary Kenyan could have ordered the illegal arrest and detention of two Nation Media Group journalists; Karim Rajan of NTV and Laban Waloga on Thursday after they were found taking photos and videos of the hotel.
The two were detained at Bamburi Police Station before they were released following protests from fellow journalists.
“These two organisations, NEMA and Mombasa County are looking the other way and we know that it is owned by someone very powerful,” said Khalifa.
“They are telling us they do not know. There is nothing we do not know, law must be applied equally to everybody.”
He said the hotel must tell the public who arrested the journalists.
Hussein Khalid, Haki Africa Executive Director, said it was obvious that the shoreline had been encroached on.
“We do not have public beaches in Kenya. This is a public beach, but as you can see someone has encroached on it. The encroachment is killing marine life; it is denying Kenyans and opportunity to use the beach,” said Khalid.
However, the Mombasa Lands Executive said the rights group were becoming “emotional.”
“We should not be driven by emotions. We are here because of public interest, we are urging you to give us enough time,” said Nyale.
Khalifa said they will be moving to court if the action is not taken soon.