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Mombasa: grand plans that never happened

Monday February 3 2020

housing

The condemned Changamwe estate in Mombasa County. The government is planning to build 30,000 housing units. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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When Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho was sworn in for his final term in office, top in his priority list was the implementation of major projects that were part of the county’s Vision 2035 plan.

He had initiated the projects in 2016 during his first term. Now, with only two years left before he leaves office, the projects exist only on paper.

Some of the projects that were meant to spur economic growth in the county included the establishment of a Sh6.5 billion waste recycling plant, construction of desalination plants at a cost of Sh16 billion, development of a Sh200 billion housing project and the introduction of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. The four are part of the county’s urban re-development plan.

According to original plans by the county government, the projects were to be implemented through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

A survey by the Nation, however, reveals that residents continue to bear the brunt of poor waste disposal, lack of fresh water and poorly developed houses.

HOUSING

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The desalination plant and the housing project are the only ones that have moved to the tendering stage.

In December 2018, the county government unveiled two international companies — Spanish company Almar Water Solutions and Switzerland’s Aqua Swiss — that would develop the desalination plant with a capacity of 100,000 cubic metres.

Almar was to put up the desalination plant on the north mainland while Aqua Swiss was expected to build a smaller plant in Likoni.

According to the agreement, the two companies would design, build and operate the plants for 25 years before handing them over to the county government.

The projects were to start in June 2019 and take at least 24 months to complete.

On the housing front, the county planned to build at least 30,000 housing units. The administration sought to replace old houses in 12 housing estates — Khadija, Miritini, Changamwe, Tudor, Mzizima, Buxton, Likoni, Nyerere, Tom Mboya and Kaa Chonjo — with new ones. The project was expected to take two years.

The county was by late last year working on BRT designs and profiling its garbage for the recycling plant.

POOR IMPLEMENTOR

The projects were being implemented and followed up by members of the county executive committee (CEC), some of whom remain out of office after the expiry of their contracts last year.

Only four CECs have had their contracts renewed — Hazel Koitaba (Health), Godfrey Nato (Environment), Maryam Mbaruk (Finance) and Tawfiq Balala, who has been taken to the Water Department after serving in the Transport docket.

With the limited time left for the Joho administration, prospects of the projects coming to fruition are dim.

“We have a governor who is poor in implementation. The governor has let the residents down because what he has shown to be good in is just doing public relations with us,” said environmental expert Benson Wemali in regard to the government’s failure in waste management.

Construction of the recycling plant, which was to be put up at Mwakirunge, is yet to start.

Residential areas have been turned into dumpsites following the closure of the Kibarani site, which has since been turned into a recreational facility.

PROJECTS ON COURSE

At the Mwakirunge site, garbage now spills onto the road, making it difficult for motorists to access the area. Locals have also complained of diseases linked to the waste.

The desalination plant project is also yet to take off. Sources from the county told the Nation that there is little going on with regard to it.

County communications director Richard Chacha said the governor plans to kick off some of the projects this year.

He said the launch of the housing project was expected soon. “We expect to have the groundbreaking ceremony for the project by the end of next month (February). We also have the line-up for the other projects that are to be done by the county government,” said Mr Chacha.