Ministry of Tourism and Kisumu county in tussle over sale of hotel

Sunset hotel in Kisumu

KISUMU, KENYA: A fresh row has erupted between the Government and Kisumu County over a plan to privatise Stated-owned Sunset Hotel.

Just three days after the State kick-started the process of disposing of its shares in eight tourist hotels across the country, among them the Sunset, the county has begun a parallel process.

Last Thursday, the county placed an advert in local dailies calling for an expression of interest in a public-private partnership to redevelop the 41-year-old hotel.

This is in spite of the fact that the county holds a minority stake of 5 per cent against the national government’s stake of 95 per cent through the Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC). 

“The county government of Kisumu wishes to request for partnership in redeveloping the Sunset Hotel into a modern facility to incorporate 5,000 conference sitting facility, 1,000 rooms (five-star), water recreation facility and renovation of the current facility as annex,” the advert states.

TFC yesterday protested at the county's action, terming it irregular as it did not follow the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.

Been shelved

A meeting scheduled this morning between Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, the management of TFC and the county government in Kisumu has consequently been shelved.

 “As a majority shareholder, we had not agreed with the county to run an advert. This is irregular and we are going to put up a notice immediately to cancel the purported advert,” TFC Managing Director Jonah Orumoi said.

According to Orumoi, the agency and CS Balala were planning to hold a meeting today (Monday) with Governor Anyang’ Nyon'o to agree on the modalities of the process, having received the nod from the Privatisation Commission.

“The process must be done in accordance to the procurement law and jointly between us and the county government. As it stands, the advert is contrary to the board resolutions,” he added.

Prof Nyong'o insisted the county had a right to decide the redevelopment of the facility since tourism was a county function.

He said the Ministry of Tourism should sit with the county so that "we can tell them why we have made the move".

 “The buildings are in Kisumu and the taxes of our people were used. If they (TFC) want to sell their shares, we can buy them,” Nyong’o said.