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NEMA, WARMA, CEC fumble over controversial Mombasa beach hotel

By Philip Mwakio | Published Sat, August 18th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 17th 2018 at 23:49 GMT +3
A section of the former Dolphin Beach Hotel which is under construction by a new developer along the beach front in Shanzu, August 17, 2018. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]

In summary

  • Government officials fumble over establishment’s ownership as human rights body links DP to construction
  • Nema says approvals for extension of former Dolphin hotel, said to have encroached on public beach, was sought by Weston

Weston Hotel, which Deputy President William Ruto has in the past admitted to having interests in, put in approvals for controversial extension of the former Dolphin Hotel in Mombasa.

The resort has reportedly encroached on a public beach. A search by Saturday Standard on the approvals given by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for the extension of the hotel whose ownership changed in 2015, shows that it was applied for by Weston Hotels Ltd.

Weston Hotels Ltd owns the Weston Hotel in Nairobi, which has also come under sharp criticism in the last few days after the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KAA) declared that it owns part of the land the hotel stands on. It is reported that part of Weston was Friday earmarked for demolition. 

Dolphin Hotel was given an approval for a “proposed alteration and extension” under approval number ‘NEMA/EIA/PSR/6347’. The hotel, whose ownership has remained a mystery for the last two years, is located near Flamingo Pride Inn resort in Shanzu.

Mombasa County Government at one time stopped its construction after neighbours complained that the contractor was dumping debris on the road, but the impasse did not last long. The contractor, Avco Agencies Ltd, ignored orders to stop operations.

Public land

Friday, NEMA and Water Resource Management Authority (WARMA) officials who toured Dolphin were cagey and evasive when asked to state who owns the hotel and whether the establishment had encroached on public land.

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They asked for time to “seek more information” and “clarification” although the hotel has been under construction since 2015. As they fumbled before journalists, a helicopter appeared, hovered above the construction site and left.

“We are here to ascertain if public access has been denied or whether there has been an infringement on the high water mark that separates the beach and dry land,’’ pleaded Mombasa County Executive in charge of Lands, Housing and Physical Planning Edward Nyale. But as Nyale and the other government officials declined to mention the owner of the hotel, Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) Chairman Khelef Khalifa mentioned Ruto.

“We demand to be told the identity of guards who meted out the assault on journalists. We  have heard speculation that the owner is Ruto,’’ Khalifa said.

During a TV interview in 2015, Ruto admitted to owning Weston Hotel but said does not sit on land owned by KCAA.

“I have interests in Weston Hotel. Weston Hotel is completely different from Lang’ata Road Primary school. Each one has its own title,” said Ruto.

Mombasa County Government has in the meantime ordered investigations and threatened a law suit against the developer.

On Thursday, journalists Laban Walloga and Karim Rajan were arrested and forced to delete footage they had recorded of an excavator illegally reclaiming part of the beach. They were released following public outcry.  

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