Italian billionaire threatens to pull out Sh1 billion investment from Malindi citing hostility

A representative of Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore has warned that the former Formula One owner could withdraw his proposed Sh1 billion investment in Malindi town due to political infighting, mounting garbage, land squabbles and poor infrastructure in the tourist resort.

According to the billionaire, the delayed expansion of the Malindi International Airport due to political interests and unending land wrangles, poor road network as well the increasing garbage in Malindi, investors could no longer hope to invest in Malindi and are looking for other investment destinations in Zanzibar and Seychelles.

The Billionaire's Resort Management has confirmed that plans to complete the second phase of the existing Sh500 million resort facility project adjacent to the Malindi Marine Park as well as another real estate project worth Sh. 500 million at the Indian Ocean House had been halted by the investment magnet.

Dr. Liliana Pierrino who is in charge of the Italian Billionaire's investments in Africa confirmed yesterday that they will not be proceeding with the projects unless substantial changes are made to improve the business and investment climate in Malindi.

Addressing journalists at Lion in the Sun Resort, one of the billionaire's investments in Malindi, Dr. Pierrino stated that the sea resort town of Malindi had degenerated to its worst levels over the years due to poor administrative management thereby failing to attract high end investors.

"Malindi used to be one of the World's investment destination but that is no longer the case. Malindi needs somebody to take care of things; it has been forgotten. As investors we need support, we cannot do things on our own,'' he said.

He in particularly observed that the road network was in complete disarray as waste was strewn everywhere without any proper disposal plans.

He wondered why the town's disposal site was moved to up market Casuarina where investors lived noting that it was a ploy by County government officials to devalue the property prices as investors moved away to other countries.

Billionaires Resort, another of the billionaire's top notch property and a favorite of high end tourists and visitors is located close to the new dump site.

Dr. Pierrino stated it was disgusting to see flies and crows flying all over the resort observing that such sights discouraged high end visitors from patronizing a facility.

"If things do not change we shall be forced to close down business and move to invest in another country,'' he warned.

At the Indian Ocean House, Dr. Pierrrino confirmed that it had been the investor's intention to develop exclusive executive suites for sale to top end tourists an a 3.9 acre property but the current situation was untenable as it could be a waste of funds as the most clients would not accept to buy property with the disposal site closely located.

On the Malindi International Airport, political interests have overshadowed the expansion plans with residents building structures within the vicinity of the airport with the support of local leaders with the hope of reaping from various compensation plans by the government. Currently large commercial jets can neither land nor take off from the airport due to its short runway. Plans to expand the runway have been met with hostilities.

Dr. Pierrino confirmed the fears held by the Malindi International Airport Officials that high end tourists cannot land in Malindi due to the big planes that are used.

"It is becoming difficult to convince them to come here for holiday. These people move with big planes which cannot land here; you can't convince them to land in Mombasa and travel by road to Malindi with all the heavy traffic jam and the poor state of roads in Kilifi. That is why most have been opting to go to Mauritus, Zanzibar and Seychelles, '' he said.

The Italian billionaire, Flavio Briatore, associated with the Formula One Racing cars has been investing in Malindi for the past twenty years. He has also been at the forefront campaigning for the expansion of the Malindi International Airport.

Efforts to contact Malindi Town Manager Daniel Chome on the environment status of the town were futile as he did not answer his phone nor respond to text messages.

Chome has announced his intention to vie for the Malindi Parliamentary seat in the by elections scheduled for early next year. The seat fell vacant after the former Member of Parliament, Mr Dan Kazungu was sworn in as Cabinet Secretary for Mining last week.