All roads in the coastal city of Mombasa will on Sunday lead to the modern Mama Ngina Drive Waterfront Park for this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations.
Residents of the coastal region of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta and Tana River are in an upbeat mood as the region hosts the first national celebrations since independence.
The historical day to celebrate and remember Kenya’s heroes and heroines will take place at the revamped Sh.460 million waterfront recreational facility where those in attendance will for the first time witness military ocean parade conducted by the Kenya Navy.
“All the necessary logistics, including security, entertainments, seating and parking arrangements are in place,” confirmed Coast Regional Commissioner (RC), John Elung’ata.
Saying gates will open as early as 5am at the Park, Elung’ata urged coastal residents to turn up in large numbers and witness the unfolding of the historic occasion. He said over 40,000 people are expected to attend the celebrations to be presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Administrator also said they expect senior government officials, political leaders and foreign dignitaries.
“Big screens will also be mounted at strategic places within the venue for those in attendance to follow proceedings smoothly,” added Elung’ata during an interview with KNA at his office at Uhuru Na Kazi Building on Wednesday.
The Chairman of the National Celebrations Committee, Karanja Kibicho said all the six counties of coastal region will be involved in different cultural events and other entertainments during the fete.
Dr. Kibicho who is also the Principal Secretary (PS) Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government said since the celebrations were being held in Mombasa, it is important to involve other coastal counties to enable all residents feel part of the historical event.
The PS said this during routine inspection of the construction of the Park and preparations for the October 20 celebrations.
Dr. Kibicho said, “the committee is satisfied with the significant improvement and progress made at the venue which is adjacent to Likoni crossing channel that connects Mombasa Island to the mainland south”.
The Principal Secretary (PS) for Culture and Heritage, Josephta Mukobe said various cultural and other entertainments troupes will participate.
“We have lined up a number of entertainment activities to cheer up those who will attend the historical celebrations,” said Mukoba.
Hosting of this year’s Mashujaa Day celebrations in Mombasa County this weekend is not only set to increase the fortunes of hoteliers and traders but would also create a sense of national pride to the residents of coast region.
The celebrations is expected to boost the number of domestic visitors and also increase business for small traders and transport sector.
Mombasa will be the sixth county to host national celebrations after Meru, Nakuru, Machakos, Kakamega and Narok.
“The hosting of the national celebrations at the newly unveiled recreational facility will add flavor to this year’s celebrations,” said Wafula Waswa, Marketing Manager of Travelers Beach Hotel and Club.
Waswa noted that Kenyans from different parts of the country are expected to flock the coastal city which he said will result to booming business for hotels. “This will not only boost the fortunes of the hospitality industry but also the transport sector and other small traders,” said the hotelier.
He also said Kenyans will for the first time witness the hosting of national celebrations adjacent to the Indian Ocean.
The construction of the waterfront project is a major boost to the tourism industry and will also provide Kenyans and international visitors with a world-class recreational facility. The Park is expected to promote the coastal city’s history, local people’s culture besides offering an ideal venue for festivals and other social events.
This will be the first modem public recreational area that aims at transforming the famous Mama Ngina Drive to international standard and reposition Mombasa as a top tourist destination in the region.
The Chief Executive of the Kenya Association of Hotel Owners and Caterers, Sam Ikwae said the facility will raise the profile of Mombasa as a waterfront destination and other tourist areas in coast region and attract more international and local visitors.
Ikwae noted that the park was a milestone to the industry and that will not only boost the number of tourists but also spur business and other economic activities in the region.
“The recreational facility will create job opportunities to those in the tourism related business, transporters and other entrepreneurs,” said Ikwae.
He commended both the national government and county government of Mombasa for initiating the project saying the traditional tourism products such as beaches and safari are becoming less attractive.
The Mashujaa day celebrations come at a time when coastal region is witnessing infrastructural transformation through various mega national government projects.
Among the on-going multi-billion projects are several key roads in all the six counties, the Mombasa Port expansion, the Dongo Kundu Economic Special Zone, the Dongo Kundu By-pass and a modern cruise ship terminal at the Port of Mombasa.
By Mohamed Hassan