Meeting notes and site visits, SCRA and Environmental Complaints Committee (ECC)

Saturday 27th February 2021

On Saturday 27th February SCRA met with the ECC to discuss our report on blocking and encroachment of Beach Access Roads and other illegal developments.

We started at 9am with a meeting with the team and explained our complaints. Apart from the 7 strong team from the ECC, there was a representative from the county commissioner, from Fisheries (why?) and from the Kwale planning office.

SCRA was represented by Onesmus Macharia, George Jaramba, Gerald Gambo and myself.

We then started the site visits at Mvureni at the Fishermen’s Restaurant and the team had a meeting with village elders and chiefs who complained that some wazungu had grabbed the land of their fish landing sites and that they had to build on the access road instead. It also transpired though that NEMA had already issued orders that the Fisherman’s restaurant and the buildings on the beach access road should be transformed into temporary structures and later removed. No timeline was given.

The next stop was the Mwaepe (KFI) beach access road. The ECC team was told that part of the access road had been grabbed and they promised to investigate. They also stated that the restaurant blocking the access on the beach side would have to be removed. Some fishermen and beach operators engaged the ECC team to explain their situation.

We then proceeded to the Bidi Badu Beach access. The ECC team was scandalised by all the informal buildings that have mushroomed on that stretch of beach and promised remedial action. There also they had a meeting with beach operators.

We then had a look at the monstrous construction on plot 800/801, but as this case is in court they didn’t want to commit. Both the gentleman from the county commissioner and the lady from the planning office were surprised that construction is still ongoing although they had told them to stop.

Next was a stop at the Kongo mosque where they inspected the Estuary Restaurant and had some words with the lady owner. They also talked to representatives of the mosque, but unfortunately not with people from the village.

We pointed out to them that a high wall had been erected on the Tiwi side of the mwachema river, which basically cuts off the kaya Tiwi and seem to earmarked for development. An informant mentioned that the name of Gideon Moi had come up in that regard.

A local chief told us that another beach access road at Southern Palms had been encroached upon. When we arrived there, some builders were just putting the finishing touches on a mosque blocking nearly the entire access road. Again, the ECC team heard that adjacent land had been grabbed and that they had no alternative but to build on the access road.

The next stop was the stone quarrying sites in Tiwi where SCRA showed the team around. They also engaged the workers in the quarries and had talks with an assistant chief of the area. The ECC team expressed their displeasure at the destruction of nature and the noise and dust pollution emanating from those sites. It also transpired that most of the quarrying is done on plots of absentee landlords.

We returned to Diani at about 5.30 pm (we all missed lunch) where I dropped off my 3 SCRA colleagues. The ECC team asked me to join them for dinner and we finished with a short debrief before the restaurant closed at 9pm.

ECC promised to write a report with their recommendations to be presented to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment within 2 weeks and that they would keep SCRA updated. They also insisted that SCRA should remain their eyes and ears on the ground. A suggestion was made that the ECC should cooperate with SCRA, NEMA, the planning office, Kwale County Government, the Water Resources Authority, KWS, WWF and the National Museums of Kenya. SCRA welcomed this proposal.

More updates when we receive the report.

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