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NO MORE WORK

300 workers jobless after court stops beach project

Developer in battle with Nyali neighbours, Nema and county government over beach apartments.

In Summary

•Mombasa Resident Judge Eric Ogola lifted an earlier order that allowed the investor to proceed with the development after it was stopped by the county administration.

•Mbesa Investments was putting up three blocks, including two 10-storey buildings and an 18-storey building, at the beach front in Nyali.

Workers protest Judge Eric Ogola's ruling that stopped work at the construction site in Nyali on Friday.
BITTER Workers protest Judge Eric Ogola's ruling that stopped work at the construction site in Nyali on Friday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Rehema Kazungu, a 40-year-old widow, feels like she will soon lose it.

Her husband died in 2015, leaving her with seven children to raise single-handedly. She also takes care of her late brother's three children. This means she has 11 mouths to feed.

 
 

Three of the children are expected to report to school on Monday. Kazungu said she is slowly sinking into depression because she has no idea where she will get school fees for the three.

She does not have a job after a court ruling recently stopped her and more than 300 others from working at a construction site in Nyali.

She was one of those working at the building site of Naurus Beach Apartments. The apartments are being put up by real estate developer Mbesa Investment Ltd.

“Corona stopped us from working. I struggled to feed my children. Now that the country is opening up, and we are at least getting back on our feet, we are told we can no longer work here. This is unfair,” Kazungu said.

“One of my children is in Form 4, the other is in Standard 8. One of my brother’s children in also in Standard 8. How will I take them to school on Monday? They will have to stay home until I get money.” 

Workers protest Judge Eric Ogola's ruling that stopped work at the construction site in Nyali on Friday.
AGGRIEVED Workers protest Judge Eric Ogola's ruling that stopped work at the construction site in Nyali on Friday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

In a recent ruling, Mombasa resident judge Eric Ogola lifted an earlier order that allowed the investor to proceed with the development after it was stopped by the county administration.

“It is further hereby ordered that for purposes of good order, and for the security and preservation of the suit property, the interim conservatory orders issued on July 3, 2020, allowing the petitioner to proceed with construction on the suit property is hereby lifted to enable all parties to operate on equal footing pending the determination of the issues before the court,” Justice Ogola said.

 
 

The developer of the apartments is battling with neighbours, environmental watchdog Nema and the county government in court over the construction of the apartments.

Mbesa Investments was to build three blocks, including two 10-storey buildings and an 18-storey building, on the beachfront in Nyali.

However, at least 20 neighbours claim they were forced to incur medical expenses due to health hazards emanating from the site. They also said that public participation was not done before the project was started.

Nema is concerned with the construction of the apartments at the first row of the beachfront where one is only allowed to build one-floor houses.

On Friday, workers staged peaceful protests at the construction site, asking other authorities to intervene.

“This is a matter that I believe can be settled amicably. Both sides need to sit down and work out an agreement so we can get back to work,” Kazungu said.

Foreman Christopher Otieno said they were happy when President Uhuru Kenyatta started easing restrictions because it meant they could fend for themselves.

Workers read a discouraging notice at the gate of the site in Nyali on Friday.
NO MORE WORK Workers read a discouraging notice at the gate of the site in Nyali on Friday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

But Ogola’s ruling has been a blow to them.

“Our families depend on us. Some of us walk from as far as Mariakani – more than 20km away – just to get here and get something we can feed our families with. This ruling has messed us up,” Otieno said.

He said rulings should be made in consideration of the impact they would have.

“Where will we go? Most of the people here have escaped vices like drug abuse and robbery through the work here,” Otieno said.

Kassim Dzugwe, an electrical supervisor at the site, called on the neighbours and developers to come to an agreement.

“Schools are reopening. We don’t have school fees. This work was helping us get something small.”

Charity Nyambura, a supplier of materials at the site, said she has lost business.

“I was bringing materials worth Sh200,000 here only to find a notice at the gate that the materials are no longer needed. I’m stranded,” said Nyambura, who works with Bidii My Boys, a general supplies company.