Campaign billboards vanish from Mombasa

Gone: Electoral law requires the removal of electoral material after the end of the campaigning period. [Achive, Standard]

Various candidates in Coast have complied with the electoral rules and pulled down their billboards that were put up during the campaign period that ended on Saturday.

In Mombasa County, candidates had removed their campaign materials displayed in strategic sites at the entry points to the island and within the island itself.

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga and ODM candidates who had dominated the Nyali Bridge, Likoni Ferry and Makupa Bridge areas had a hard task clearing the billboards.

United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate William Ruto and Kenya Kwanza candidates who also had erected some billboards had removed most of them by yesterday evening.

Raila had five billboards at the Nyali Bridge area and while Ruto had one shared with Nyali MP Mohamed Ali. 

Raila also had a billboard at the Ganjoni Post Office area shared with running mate Martha Karua. That has been removed.

At Likoni Ferry, Raila had put up a billboard on the south mainland while Ruto had one billboard on the island side of the Likoni Channel.

At the ferry, Makupa Bridge and Nyali Bridge areas, Raila had put up the latest billboards promising to bring port operations back to Mombasa in an effort to counter Ruto’s earlier pledge to do so.

The many billboards served as an indication of how gruelling the campaigns were at the Coast with the port of Mombasa being at the centre of discourse.

In the latest billboard, Raila had made a commitment to ‘return’ port services transferred to Naivasha dry port after the introduction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) freight service.

“Narudisha port yenu. A thriving coastal economy will start with bringing the port back to Mombasa,” screamed Raila’s billboard.

Ruto’s billboard at the Likoni ferry said: "Every hustle matters.” 

Apart from the billboards, candidates were also clearing the mess caused by posters that have defaced walls and various other spaces in Mombasa and other coastal towns.

In an earlier interview, Mombasa Deputy Governor William Kingi who is contesting for governor on a Pamoja African Alliance (PAA) complained that it was difficult to secure space for billboards from the county government.

“Advertising agents are controlled by the county government and it has become difficult to secure space for billboards. I have since adopted other campaign strategies including reaching out to the electorate at the grassroots,” Dr Kingi said last week.

Mombasa county secretary Mr Joab Tumbo dismissed the claims by politicians saying they were seeking political mileage.

Tumbo argued that no agent had raised a complaint to the county administration about political interference in placing advertisements for certain politicians.

“The billboard spaces belong to advertising agents and we have no control over who is allowed to advertise. We cannot address fears of advertising agents through politicians,” Tumbo said.

At Makupa bridge, Nyali bridge and Likoni, ODM governor candidate Mr Abdulswamad Nassir dominated the advertising spaces.

In Jomvu, Mvita and Nyali, ODM parliamentary candidates Bady Twalib, Mohamed Machele and Said Abdalla also enjoyed generous space compared to rivals.

However, PAA Mvita parliamentary candidate Mr Said Twaha had placed two billboards at strategic points on Mombasa island. They have been pulled down.

Vibrant Democratic Party (VDP) governor candidate and former Nyali MP Mr Awiti Bollo claimed there was no fair treatment by the county government as their advertising agents had expressed fear of losing their contracts with the county government if they placed advertisements for certain politicians on the billboards.

Awiti however managed to place a billboard each at the Nyali bridge, Kibarani, Likoni ferry and Mamba village in Nyali. He had removed them by Monday morning.