Kwale County Security Committee has announced that it has tightened security in the county ahead of the Christmas and New Year festivities.
The coastal county is a world tourist destination thus calling for security attention. According to key business players in the county, the region is expecting to boom in tourist activities from December.
Addressing the press at Baobab Hotel in Diani, Kwale County Commissioner, Gideon Oyagi said that the government has deployed extra security along the coastline.
Oyagi added that the security team will intensify its security patrols in hotels and cottages to safeguard tourists.
“We have briefed our security officers and they are very alert to deal with people who might be looking for opportunities to commit crimes,” Oyagi said.
The CC noted that the government will conduct mapping of the cottages and villas in Diani and dispatch enough security personnel to keep an eye on the tourist facilities.
He said that the owners of recreational facilities should register with the security department in the county to make the process seamless.
“All the facilities along the coastline of the county must be registered. We want to know how many security officers are required in each facility. The main agenda of the government is to protect its people,” Oyagi said.
Kwale County has State-Of-The-Art recreational facilities with Diani beach voted as the leading beach destination in Africa for seven years in a row which have been attracting many tourists across the globe.
Tourism is the backbone of the county’s economy which has created plentiful employment opportunities for close to 78% of the locals in the county.
Oyagi asked the visitors to seek guidance when taking part in water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, water skiing, windsurfing and glass bottomed boat tours.
“We have enough experts on swimming from both the government and the hotels and all visitors will be guided appropriately. We aim to protect every visitor in our county,” Oyagi said.
The CC advised the members of the public not to visit the ocean during the nightfall to avoid cases of drowning which has resulted in casualties.
The administrator noted that the government will support the tourism industry which has been hit hard by Covid -19 pandemic.
Oyagi urged visitors to observe all the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health such as keeping social distance, sanitizing, and washing of hands.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caretakers (KAHC) Coast Branch Executive Officer, Sam Ikwaye, said that tourism stakeholders are expecting many visitors following the relaxation of the Covid-19 guidelines and the lifting of economic and travel restrictions.
Ikwaye added that the security team in the county has been very supportive in providing security to key tourist sites. “We are working closely with the security team and we are happy that we have seen new development that will make these places safer,” Ikwaye said.
The tourism official noted that the performance of the industry is at 70% majority being local tourists with the percentage expected to hit 90% as Christmas and New Year holidays beckons.
Ikwaye said that the industry is working hand in hand with the Ministry Of Health to ensure that more than 90% of the tourism stakeholders have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
He added that the industry will continue enforcing the health guidelines to secure the industry which has been under siege for close to two years because of the pandemic.
“We have enough medical officers issuing Covid-19 vaccines in our facilities and if the government will make it compulsory for all visors to be vaccinated, then we shall not hesitate to comply. The bottom line is that we are prepared to safeguard our visitors,” Ikwaye said.
At the same time, Oyagi asked road users to exercise caution as they approach the festive season. He said that many accidents have been occurring during the festive season because of the rush thus requesting all road users to be gentle.
He noted that more traffic officers will be deployed along the busy Likoni-Highway, Mombasa-Nairobi highway, and Kwale- Kombani route to conduct vehicle checkups.
“We shall deal with all drivers and motorists that are breaking traffic rules. These people must know that they have a responsibility to protect the lives of the people,” Oyagi said.
The CC added that the security team will be working closely with officers from National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to enforce the traffic law. He reminded owners of Public Service Vehicles to ensure that their vehicles are fixed with speed limiters to reduce cases of speeding.
The CC asked drivers and motorists not to drive while under the influence of alcohol. “We shall establish alcohol testing centers along the busy highways and arrest those who are driving while drunk. We don’t want to hear cases of accidents in this county,” Oyagi said.
Statistics from NTSA reveal that 439 road crashes were recorded from January to October 31. This is an increase of 42 cases from the 397 recorded in the same period last year.
The data shows that 3,733 people have died countrywide from road accidents, of which 1,293 were passengers, 364 drivers, 600 passersby, 1,405 motorcycles, and 71 pedal cyclists.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi