• The activists claim the CS has no legal basis to manage the park since it is public land and is held by the county government in trust for its residents.
• They fear locals will be denied access, traders will be kicked out to accommodate non-locals who can pay a lot more for licences.
A Mombasa court has suspended the appointment of a board to manage Mama Ngina Waterfront Park until a case challenging the move is determined.
Justice Peter Otieno directed the petitioners to serve the respondents within seven days. The newly refurbished Sh460 million park was commissioned barely a month ago by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Lobbies Haki Africa, Institute for Land Governance and Human Rights and activists Philip Jagero, Harriet Muganda and Mesh Abdul have sued the Attorney General and the Ministry of Tourism for appointing a board to run the park.
Mombasa county government, National Museums of Kenya and National Land Commission are listed as interested parties in the suit filed under a certificate of urgency.
The lobbies, through lawyer Aboubakar Mwanakitina, stated that Tourism CS Najib Balala appointed the Mama Ngina Waterfront management board on September 13.
They say the CS has no legal basis to manage the park since it is public land and is held by the county government in trust for its residents.
The activists seek to have the CS prohibited from appointing the board pending the hearing and determination of the proceedings.
“Mombasa county is obligated to oversee the planning of all development projects and ensure it protects the right to self-fulfilment among communities and to protect its historical and cultural heritage, artefacts and sites,” an affidavit filed Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid Khamis reads.
Residents, they said, will suffer the consequences of what they termed as an illegal takeover of the public land, saying the board will develop the park without their input as required in law.
They also fear the park may be set aside exclusively for tourists and lock out locals from freely accessing it.
They also fear traders may be locked out and licences issued to outsiders with the ability to pay a lot more for the same.
One of the grounds was that the park, which includes historical sites and monuments, captures the heritage of the coastal city and that its management was vested on the NMK by operation of the law.
“We believe the CS has no legal, constitutional or policy bases to seek to manage the park. And that the impugned decision, if allowed to be implemented, will defeat the purpose of the Constitution and the devolved government,” Khalid said.
Edited by R.Wamochie