Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho is expected back in the country this weekend from his month-long tour of the US, amid a storm over his prolonged absence from the county.
The county director of communications Richard Chacha confirmed that the governor would jet into the country this afternoon after a “working” tour in the US.
The governor left the country in the first week of July.
Mr Chacha and deputy governor William Kingi defended Mr Joho against accusations that the tour was not beneficial to Mombasa residents. An official programme released by the governor’s office showed that Mr Joho was to commence his tour on July 8 by holding meetings with the IREX President and the Microsoft Public Policy Office in Washington DC.
The following day, he was to hold a meeting with officials from the State Department and CT Office before travelling to Redmond, Washington (Seattle) for a meeting with the Microsoft Africa Team on Wednesday.
The programme states that Mr Joho was to conclude his tour on July 12 after meeting with officials from the Agriculture Liaison and CT Home Office.
Mr Joho’s delegation comprised his personal assistant David Odada, his advisers Hamisi Mwaguya and Tendai Mtana, his personal secretary, a Ms Najma, and a personal bodyguard identified as Mr Mohamed.
Mr Chacha denied claims that the trip was a waste of taxpayer’s money.
“County employees have imprest and so is the governor. If he does an extension then the money comes from his pocket,” said Mr Chacha.
Dr Kingi explained that apart from the main meetings, Mr Joho held several others not included in the programme.
He said his boss held meetings in various States aimed at creating networks with a view to attracting investors to Mombasa county.
Mr Joho was last seen in the county during the commissioning of the Bandari Maritime Academy by President Uhuru Kenyatta in the first week of July.
Mr Joho’s photos in the company of American socialite Paris Hilton, which were widely shared on social media, caused a storm in the county coming hot on the heels of renewed attacks on residents by armed gangs.
The attacks left 13 people seriously injured. “The governor is not superhuman. It is normal for any person who is somewhere for work to get time away from his busy schedule and enjoy a little bit. Why are we putting it as if he is not a human being,” said Mr Chacha.
Dr Kingi termed the criticism against Mr Joho as political.
“Investors will not come if we do not go out there. The governor is our CEO and he has to go out and look for opportunities. He has been able to also meet some celebrities who have expressed interest in coming to invest in our county, something that will boost our tourism industry,” said Dr Kingi.
He added: “Let’s wait and see what will come out of the tour before we start spinning everything. We should not introduce politics into everything that the governor is doing.”
The Nation, however, learnt that some crucial events had been put on hold by the administration until the governor’s return. This included the planned commissioning of 10 garbage collection trucks and three fire engines.
The storm over the privatisation of the second container terminal has also coincided with the governor’s absence, with local MPs left to put up a spirited fight against the plans.