Mombasa orders car bazaars to close shop

Sunday April 14 2019

Imported cars in a yard

Imported cars in a yard. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

WINNIE ATIENO
By WINNIE ATIENO
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Residents of Mombasa city are staring at job losses as the county government begins closing down car showrooms sitting on public land and road reserves.

There are 62 such facilities in the region.

Governor Hassan Joho’s administration has begun issuing notices to traders operating from the targeted spaces to look for alternatives.

In 2013, the county cancelled temporary occupation licences (TOLs) issued by the defunct municipal council.

County communications director Richard Chacha said the tourism hub was keen to deal with congestion in the city.

“We are also eliminating brokers who have been taking money from showroom owners purporting to be their godfathers and promising to protect them. We want to use the land to expand our roads. They have been given notices to vacate,” Mr Chacha said in a phone interview.

“The county government wishes to notify you of the closure of the showroom and repossession of the space. This is in correspondence to the cancellation of TOLs by the county government of Mombasa on unalienated government land in the county of Mombasa in the year 2013,” reads part of a letter sent to one of the businesses.

The companies have been given a 14-day notice to close the showrooms and vacate the space.

“All your possessions and persons working under your authority must vacate by the end of the expiry date of this notice.

“Note that this notice will not be rescinded,” reads the letter signed by Trade, Investment and Tourism chief officer Abdulwahab Mbarak.

Failure to comply with the instructions will lead to prosecution, the county warned.

The chief officer warned of further action “not limited to prosecution and all your possessions and personnel vacated from the premises by the county government administration at your cost on the expiry date of the notice.”

This comes a month after Mombasa announced plans to throw out car bazaars from the central business district, halting the licensing and registration of new facilities.

The move, which will see them relocate to Miritini, is meant to return the city to its tourism glory.

Mombasa has established itself as the go-to place for used vehicles, with more than 200 car yards taking up the city’s prime streets to cash in on the booming business serving not only the coastal region but also the rest of the country.

Car bazaars generate about Sh12 million annually for the county in revenue.

The move to relocate them is in line with Mombasa County’s Vision 2035, a document that the assembly passed in the first term of Mr Joho’s administration.