The national government is constructing a Sh160 million state-of-the-art technical training college in Watamu, Kilifi County to provide residents with professional skills aimed at transforming the economy of the area.
Kilifi North Member of Parliament Owen Baya, whose brainchild the project is, says the college will also end Watamu’s over-reliance on the tourism sector which has been on a downturn in recent times owing the various factors, the latest being the coronavirus pandemic.
Watamu town is famous for its nightlife due to the presence of numerous entertainment joints, but since the pandemic struck, the town that has for years been frequented by local and international tourists is dying.
The town, which is located approximately 105 km north of Mombasa city and about 15 km south of Malindi town along the Kenyan Coast, relies on tourism and fishing as its main economic activities, but this could change with the establishment of the college, according to Baya.
The legislator told journalists at the site Tuesday that the project’s main aim was to make Watamu a mixed economy instead of relying only on the uncertain tourism sector.
Speaking after inspecting the project, Mr. Baya said if Watamu continues depending on tourism, it will be difficult to sustain the people’s livelihoods.
“The college will be a facility not only for training. It will also to spur economic growth for the region. For me, this is a project that will cost around Sh. 160 million,’’ he said.
Baya thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for allowing him to get the financial allocation for the project to be built, noting that the project that started four months ago could be ready before the end of this year.
Programmes that will be taught at the college will include engineering and hotel management, which will enable those aspiring to work in the hospitality industry to acquire the skills without having to travel far.
“I am bringing the college also to support locals who get employed in hotels at very low pay because they do not have academic qualifications,” he said adding, “this college will train all cadres in hotel management and other courses in the hotel industry.”
He said the college’s existence in the area would also boost the economy of the town as many students and tutors will provide market for goods and services offered by locals.
“The college will attract over 10,000 students who, together with tutors rent accommodation locally that will go to the local economy including shops, restaurants, and bars,” he said.
With the institution, the MP said hotels will no longer be empty as many Kenyans would visit the town for conferences, thus ending the over-reliance on international tourists.
He said already Pwani University had changed the economy of Kilifi town and the same thing will be witnessed in Watamu.
By Emmanuel Masha