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Senate stops Sh6 billion Buxton housing project

Senate. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A Senate committee has halted the Sh6 billion Buxton Housing Estate in Mombasa and ordered Governor Hassan Joho to provide answers to queries raised by the residents. 

The Standing Committee on Roads and Transportation said yesterday that the questions raised by the residents, through Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki, were pertinent and could not be wished away.

Committee chairman Senator Kimani Wamatangi said the project must be stopped forthwith.

In a petition, residents alleged the process that resulted in the deal between Mombasa County and Baxton Point Apartment was opaque and was not subjected to mandatory public participation.

The compensation package and how the affected persons were to be resettled were also a major concern by the committee that toured the project yesterday.

Wamatangi said Joho has 14 days to supply the committee with all the documents.

The committee also wants documents to prove that the project went through the tendering process.

Wamatangi said the county should provide documents that showed how the project was tendered, advertised in national newspapers, resolutions by the executive and minutes of committee meetings held prior to the developer being awarded the tender.

The committee took issue with Joho's absence at the meeting despite being told that the governor was out of the country.

It ordered Joho and the project developer to appear in person and issue the required documents to enable the committee make an informed decision.

Senator Kimani Wamatangi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Acting County Secretary Job Tumbo, who was present, said he had notified the committee that Joho would not be physically present. He said Joho was willing to testify via skype.

"The appearance of Governor Joho whom we have interacted so well in the past over this matter before us is not optional nor negotiable.

"He was supposed to appear before us under summons. His office received our communication and even went ahead and acknowledged receipt of the same," Wamatangi said.

He stated that there are consequences for repeatedly failing to heed summons by the committee, and this includes a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or arrest.

Tumbo defended Joho's absence, saying that when they received the communication from the Senate, the governor was not in the country.

Buxton Point Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Badawy had a difficult time convincing the committee why they cannot share documents relating to project ownership. Buxton Point is the developer of the housing project.