The construction of the Sh.460 million Mombasa waterfront project is progressing on schedule and it would be completed by July this year.
This was disclosed on Friday by Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS), Najib Balala when he conducted the Parliamentary Committee on Sports, Culture and Tourism on a tour of the project at the scenic Mama Ngina Drive overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Balala contends that he is satisfied with the current pace of work, saying that the government is committed to the prosperity and development of the tourism sector.
He told the committee that the project being implemented by the ministry of tourism and Mombasa county government is going to be a ‘game changer’ that will transform the tourism sector in the coastal city.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, ODM leader, Raila Odinga, Tourism CS and Governor Hassan Joho launched the project in January 2019.
The CS said a private entity will be brought onboard to manage the Waterfront Park once it is finished, adding that the project is expected to boost the tourism industry and provide local residents and visitors with a world-class recreational facility.
“We intend to enter into a Private Public Partnership (PPP) to ensure that the park is maintained at high standards,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Balala who was accompanied by the Principal Secretary State Department of Tourism, Joe Okudo said the construction work is almost 45 per cent complete three months after work began and that the completion of the project is expected to be on schedule.
He said, “We hold weekly meetings where the technical teams review progress and challenges to ensure successful completion of the waterfront project.”
He noted that once the projected is completed, the first priority will be given to traders who are currently operating at Mama Ngina Drive.
Members of the committee who were led by their Chairman, Dr. Victor Munyaka commended the contractor, Suhufi Agencies Limited for the progress of the project.
“As a Parliamentary committee, we are pleased with the progress of the project and confident the contractor will deliver it on time,” said Munyaka.
The project is expected to promote the City’s history, culture of the people and offer 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 project is seen as an added product to the tourism sector as the country already offers a multifaceted destination combining exotic beaches, national parks and historical sites.
Stakeholders in the industry said the waterfront facility will raise the profile of Mombasa and other tourist areas in coast region and attract more international and local visitors.
The seafront project adjacent to Likoni ferry entails a public square, two iconic gateways, a Swahili cultural center, amphitheater, modern kiosks, restaurants and parking areas among other facilities.
Coast region accounts for 65 per cent of tourism in the country and remain a preferred holiday destination for many Kenyans and foreign visitors arriving to savour its beautiful sandy beaches stretched out from the South to the North coast and tropical ambience.
According to Vision 2030, tourism has been identified as a leading sector in achieving the goals of the nation, where Kenya aims to be among the 10 long haul tourist destinations in the world offering a high-end, diverse and distinctive visitor experience that few of her competitors can offer.
The Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) will provide high-speed internet for the waterfront project to enhance communication and security of the facility.
This was disclosed by ICT and Innovation Principal Secretary (PS), Jerome Ochieng when he recently visited the project.
Ochieng said the provision of reliable and high quality internet was critical for the project which is expected to attract more international and local visitors to the coastal city.
“We intend to create a conducive technology infrastructure that will enhance communication and visitor experience through sharing of photos and video while enjoying the beautiful views of the Indian Ocean,” said the PS.
He said with high quality internet connectivity, the project will provide an ideal platform for establishment of innovation hub, cybercafé and also help youth to promote their talents.
Ochieng further said besides improving communication, there is also a need to enhance security within the waterfront through CCTV cameras that will help to monitor movements and other activities within the iconic area.
“Such facility of international status need modern security technology for the safety of visitors and those conducting business,” added the PS.
Ochieng said the involvement of the ICT Ministry on the project shows that the government was committed towards improving the tourism industry and also make Mombasa a waterfront destination.
By Mohamed Hassan