20 June 2013

Kenya: Kura to Tear Down 32 Mombasa Buildings

BUILDINGS worth billions of shillings have been slated for demolition by the Mombasa county government for blocking beach access.

More than 32 properties said to have encroached on beach access roads, rendering them impassable, will be torn down by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority.

Palatial houses and hotels are among the structures that will be brought down following the lapse of several three-months notices issued by Kura.

Most buildings are on public land in the upmarket Nyali Estate, Old Nyali Estate, Bamburi and the rapidly expanding Shanzu area.

Mohammed Abbas, Mombasa's committee member of transport and infrastructure yesterday while talking to the Star was categorical that the condemned buildings would be brought down.

Abbas said the County government would not condone the impunity that has seen public roads grabbed during the reign of both former presidents Jommo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi.

"On behalf of Mombasa we want to ascertain governor Joho's words that all public access roads and beach access roads would be recovered. Buildings will be brought down without fear,"said Abbas.

"We will not tolerate this impunity. Mombasa residents should know access to the beach is not a privilege but their right. We will not let the private developers take our land," said Abbas.

A senior surveyor involved in the project told the Star that surveys for the repossessed lands were ready and that the roads project would start as soon as the demolitions were through.

The first in line for the demolitions is the closed down Coral Palm Beach hotel in Shanzu that has two successful court orders obtained by the Ethics and Anti corruption Commission (EACC).

According to the court orders Zumzum investments limited, African safari club and Altam International Group were compelled to remove structures erected on over sixty feet of public road.

The structures were said to contravene the Shanzu Physical development plan of 1988 that paved way for access to the beach through the construction of public roads.

Abbas said perimeter walls blocking the beaches would be brought down and that owners had already been given sufficient notice of the exercise.

A seven kilometer road linking the Shanzu area to the Malindi Mombasa Highway that has since been closed by private developers would be opened once the demolitions are through.

The move by the Mombasa County is in line with the recommendations of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission handed to president Uhuru Kenyatta early last month. According to the TJRC report all public beaches as well as access routes to fishing sites and beaches should be re-opened.

The report called on individuals and entities to surrender illegally acquired land to help address the extensive squatter problem at the Coast.

It also recommends that the Lands ministry begins a process of surveying, demarcating and registering all remaining government lands.

These lands includes those that were formerly owned or managed by local authorities, all protected wildlife areas and riverbanks, among other public lands.

In the report, the Mohammed Swazuri's led National Land Commission is required to work with the ministry of Lands to undertake adjudication and registration exercises at the Coast .

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