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Court dismisses petition to stop Mama Ngina Waterfront takeover

Monday December 2 2019

Balala at Mama Ngina Waterfront tour

Tourism CS Najib Balala (2nd L), Mama Ngina Waterfront board chairman Brown Ondego (C) and other officers during an inspection tour at the facility on September 27, 2019. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

PHILIP MUYANGA
By PHILIP MUYANGA
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A court on Monday dismissed an application challenging takeover of the Sh460 Mama Ngina Waterfront by a board appointed by Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

Justice Eric Ogola dismissed the application filed by human rights organisations and five residents of Mombasa County after parties failed to attend a hearing.

The ruling means the board appointed to manage the recreational facility can carry on with its work.

“The notice of motion application dated November 8 is hereby dismissed with no orders as to costs,” the judge said.

ARGUMENTS

Haki Africa, Institute for Land Governance and Human Rights are the organisations that filed the petition alongside the five residents.

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They argued that once the board is allowed to take over the facility, some local traders will be rendered destitute hence unable to maintain their families.

"Locals conducting businesses at the waterfront may be locked out from trading and licences issued to an exclusive group of affluent non-residents, companies and individuals, who have the ability to pay [huge amounts] for permits to operate."

They also expressed fear that the facility may be exclusively set aside for tourists and locals prevented from freely accessing it.

GAZETTE NOTICE

The petitioners wanted the takeover stopped, further arguing that the Tourism and Wildlife ministry lacks legal capacity to seek management of the facility.

They said the law placed this mandate under the National Museums of Kenya.

They prayed for quashing of the Gazette notice announcing appointment of the board and for CS Balala to be prohibited from appointing the team.

The minister appointed the team in in Gazette notice 8552, dated September 13.

PUBLIC LAND

The applicants also wanted an order prohibiting the board from taking over management of the facility from the Mombasa government.

They argued that the facility is public land described under article 62(1) (a) and or (b) of the Constitution and that it is vested upon and held by Mombasa, in trust, for its people.

“Mama Ngina Waterfront includes historical sites and monuments that capture our heritage. Its management was vested on the National Museums of Kenya by operation of the law,” suit document stated.

The petitioners also noted that the facility is under Mombasa, which must ensure residents participate in planning its development, in line with section 87 of County Government Act, 2012. They said this had not been the case.