The Directorate of Tourism in the Ministry of East African, Commerce and Tourism has canceled plans to privatise land belonging to the historic Bomas of Kenya.
In December the ministry advertised in the local dailies for investors to convert Bomas of Kenya convention and exhibition centre into a hotel and shopping complex.
Constitutional expert Yashpal Ghai and the Katiba Institute wrote to the Bomas General Manager this month asking for the justification for the plans to construct five hotels and a shopping mall at the Bomas of Kenya.
Yesterday Ghai expressed relief at the cancellation saying the move to privatize public land without public participation amounted to land grabbing because it did not involve stakeholders.
"This is public land meant for public use but it was being privatized. We felt this was being done without consultations. It requires public participation but we first heard of it in the papers. Bomas is a historic place and deserves to be preserved. It was illegal to snatch the children's playground and a cultural centre from Kenyans. No environmental assessment was conducted," Ghai said.
The ministry wanted to erect one 7 star presidential hotel, a 5 star hotel, a 4 star hotel and two 3 star hotels at Bomas within the next three years. A shopping mall would house restaurants, coffee shops, bars, a dedicated Maasai market, a cultural market, a youth centre, shops and banks.
The 7-star presidential hotel would have six presidential villas, 27 presidential suites, 31 ministerial suites and guest rooms to accommodate 400 people.The exact acreage to be excised for the construction for the Bomas International Convention and Exhibition Centre was not disclosed.
Ghai had written to the Bomas General Manager asking whether the planned developments have been subjected to public consultation and participation and whether there has been an environmental impact assessment on how biodiversity will be affected.
The ministry intended to excise seven acres of indigenous forest and 40 other acres for the exhibition centre.The presidential hotel will occupy13.5 acres and the other hotels about 12 acres. The shopping mall will be on 5.8 acres.
Bomas of Kenya is 10km from Nairobi city center close to the Nairobi National Park. The centre displays the wonderful diversity of cultures from Kenya in crafts, music and dancing.