A tussle has ensued between different national government agencies and the Mombasa County government over wanton reclamation of the Indian Ocean at the Makupa Causeway in Kibarani.
The Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources blamed the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) and Mombasa County for the grabbing of sea land at the Makupa Causeway.
The members of the committee said some 500 square metres of the Indian Ocean has been grabbed by two companies under the watch of the county government, putting Mombasa at risk of ceasing to be an island.
Committee chairman Kareke Mbiuki expressed shock at the wanton encroachment of the sea which he said is a major concern to the international community especially Unesco.
Speaking when the committee visited Kibarani where the reclamation is going on at, Mr Mbiuki said the UN had warned that Mombasa as an island is threatened by the wanton reclamation of the Indian Ocean by private developers especially at the causeway.
But the county's Environment Executive Godfrey Nato said they are trying to find a solution to the crucial matter.
"This matter will soon be addressed, I call for patience," Dr Nato said.
But Mr Mbiuki insisted that the committee will ensure that Kenyan’s coastal tourism hub is protected from any reclamation.
The committee toured the foul-smelling dumpsite to witness the waste being dumped into the sea.
“Kenyans have an appetite for land. We will interrogate all the players and come up with a report which will make recommendations in terms of the way forward on all land and reclamation of the sea in a month’s time. Kibarani was initially a mangrove forest but now there are buildings and dumpsites,” he said.
The Makupa Causeway which is along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway is the link between the island and mainland.
It links the mainland to the west of Mombasa where multibillion transport industries are located including the standard gauge railway station and Moi International Airport.
The parliamentary committee expressed shock that Nema had granted some individuals permits to reclaim the sea.
“Unesco [told] us to take action. We are worried that if the sea can be grabbed and issued tittle deeds and the same individuals apply for reclamation and be granted licenses by Nema, then there is a very big problem [in this country],” Mr Mbiuki said.
He said the Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) had stopped the reclamation of two sites in Kibarani by Makupa Transit Shade Limited and Multiple Hauliers but encroachment is still going on.
But Multiple Hauliers Manager Rajinder Barya said they received licenses from relevant government agencies to “reclaim the sea”.
“We have all the necessary documents which were issued more than four years ago,” Mr Barya said.
Mr Mbiuki said the reclamation is the epicentre of corruption and impunity where powerful individuals are grabbing the sea. He called on the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajj to investigate the matter.
“They were given conditional approvals by Nema but they have been stopped by the Water Resources Management Authority. We are aware that people who have encroached into the sea have title deeds of the ocean. If someone can grab the sea and be issued with a tittle deed and they reclaim it, then this is dangerous,” he added.
The committee said it will protect the environment against thirsty land grabbers.
Tycoons who are believed to be politically connected are among players who have encroached the sea and put up multibillion shillings properties including container freight stations and offices near the port of Mombasa.
In a past interview, National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri told the Nation that tycoons want to own prime land near the ocean due to the demand for port facilities.
“Five wealthy people have applied for reclamation but we have stopped it. Traders want to be at the port because it is cheaper to directly load and offload goods from the ship,” Prof Swazuri told Nation.
Prof Swazuri cited the reclamation at the Makupa Causeway as being among the biggest challenges that NLC is trying to resolve.
A wealthy private developer reclaimed 43 acres of the India Ocean within Kibarani, affecting around 1,000 fishermen.
Warma Boniface Mwaniki said the two companies were given orders to stop further development.
“We need to survey the area, mark the riparian land and peg it and even put beacons where nobody should go beyond,” he said.
The parliamentary committee said it will summon all the suspected land grabbers.
Kinango MP Benjamin Tayari said the law will take its course.