Sluggishness, political wars and graft hurt projects in Mombasa

A file photo of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa governor Hassan Joho during the launch of National Public Lighting Project- Mwangaza Mtaani to facilitate 24- hour economy by enhancing security at Makadara grounds, Mombasa on Friday. Photo/File
A file photo of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mombasa governor Hassan Joho during the launch of National Public Lighting Project- Mwangaza Mtaani to facilitate 24- hour economy by enhancing security at Makadara grounds, Mombasa on Friday. Photo/File

Mombasa residents could have lost million of shillings in projects that were initiated by the President more than three years ago.

Some have stalled because of sluggishness by government officials, corruption and political differences.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the projects in 2015, when he announced he would change the face of the area to attract tourists, uplift residents and empower youths trapped in drug abuse.

This revelation comes at a time when another regeneration programme is being undertaken in Mombasa, weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta reorganised his government for efficient services. This time, Uhuru gave the contractors 150 days to complete the projects.

The Star has established that a multi-agency team set up to work on the regeneration of Mombasa Old Town in 2015, failed to meet its set timelines because of political rifts, petty protocol wars, lack of coordination and corruption. The team comprised officials from government agencies and parastatals.

The agencies include the National Youth Service (NYS), the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Power, the Office of the President and the Mombasa government.

The team was to come up with drawings and plans for a Swahili themed walkway along the sea front from Fort Jesus to Madhubaa beach.

It was also to repaint buildings on the front rows of the sea front, light up streets and construct a food banda near Fort Jesus, where women would be allocated space to sell traditional Swahili dishes to tourists. The team was also to plan rehabilitation of the Old Town fish market.

Also to be undertaken was the paving of roads and alleys using Cabro. The renovation of the Mackinon market buildings and general cleanup of the town by the NYS was also to be carried out.

The cleanup of the town, rehabilitation of Mackinon markets and paving of alleys were completed.

Kenya Power undertook the street lighting project in line with its then ‘Mwangaza Mitaani’ project, which Coast regional manager Hezekiah Mwalwala said was completed.

A check by the Star, however, revealed some of the lights are dysfunctional and require maintenance.

The proposed walkway is incomplete. So is the proposed food banda project, which would have housed vendors who operate near the Fort Jesus museum and specialise in traditional Swahili snacks.

Contacted by the Star for clarification, Mombasa county commissioner Evans Achoki has dismissed the claims of sluggishness in carrying out the presidential directive.

He said the directive by the President was complied with. “The Old Town interventions are ongoing, the walkway project is 60 per cent done and we expect all pending projects to be completed as scheduled,” Achoki said. The Star, however, confirmed the walkway construction work is concentrated only at the Fort Jesus waterfront as opposed to the whole old Kilindini channel shoreline.

drawings, plans done

Athman Hussein, the Coast assistant director of the National Museums of Kenya, has defended his officers from any wrongdoing. He said the NMK was involved in the project as the custodian of the Old Town heritage site.

He said drawings and plans were done by his team and submitted to the NYS, which was the principal implementing stakeholder.

“Our role was only to provide the drawings and space for the developments, which we did,” he said.

KPA, through senior corporate communications officer Sylvan Mghanga, said the authority last year rehabilitated the cold room and storage facilities at the fish market and paid electricity bills of Sh2 million.

He said the projects were undertaken as part of their organization’s corporate social investments, which are handed over to the beneficiaries upon completion.

things went quiet

During the initial meetings to discuss how to execute the projects between September and October 2015, high-profile government officials attended. They made commitments on who was to provide the drawings and bill of quantities for the implementation of the projects.

As time went by, they started sending junior officials. Later, everything went quiet.

Documents seen by the Star on the projects’ deliberations show the top officials included Nelson Marwa, who was Mombasa county commissioner, then National Construction Authority boss Daniel Manduku – now heads KPA – and then Kenya Power MD Ben Chumo.

Others were then NYS Director General Nelson Githinji, KPA’s head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero, Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, senior engineers and architects from the NCA, the KPA and Kenya Power.

The organisations were to either fund, implement or supervise.

The meetings were at first chaired by Githinji, but after he was interdicted due to lost millions at the NYS, consequent meetings were chaired by MP Nassir.

This did not go down well with some people, who expected the county commissioner to chair the meetings as he was the representative of the OP at the county level. This gave rise to silent protocol wars.

The MP was upset by the NYS for delaying payments to cohorts enlisted in the cleanup drive.

The funds were later released. Some 1,300 youths were targeted for the project and were working for Sh471 per day. They worked five days a week.

Some Sh171 was channelled to the NYS Sacco during the three months contract. The youths protested over the accumulative Sh13 million deducted as sacco savings. “The Sh13 million was eventually disbursed to us and we formed our own local sacco,” youth leader Joel Osimbo said.

Early this year, the President announced a new regeneration plan for Mombasa to include the beautification and rehabilitation of Mama Ngina Drive, Jomo Kenyatta public beach in Bamburi and the decommissioned Kibarani dumpsite.

Unlike the 2015 initiative, the new projects are on track and are being supervised by the county and national government officials.