Current Burning Issues
DIANI/UKUNDA ZONING PLAN/DIANI MUNICIPALITY:
SCRA’s Consultant City Planner and Kwale Physical Planning Office cooperated under the guidance of the Department of Physical Planning, Nairobi, to create a zoning plan for Diani/Ukunda - the first zoning plan for a Resort City in Kenya. This was adopted by Kwale Council in 2012.
Remarks: The zoning plan has been Gazetted and 1 SCRA committee member is now on the board of the new Diani Municipality.
ILLEGAL STRUCTURES ON BEACH AND ACCESS ROADS:
SCRA works in conjunction with our County Government, through the Sub County Administrator and with NEMA, to tackle illegal structures especially on the beach with issues such as restaurants, beach walls etc.
Remarks: SCRA has submitted a report to the lands commission looking into these matters and has collected maps outlining the plots and beach access roads on the South Coast. SCRA is also working with Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Kwale County Government on passing the new Beach Management Bill.
SAND HARVESTING OFF SOUTH COAST
SCRA has opposed the sand harvesting off the South Coast by a Dutch dredger Willem van Oranje, contracted by a Japanese contractor Toyo Construction, for the second phase (of 4) of the port expansion by KPA. SCRA has organized several demonstrations, has alerted the public to the potential threat to our reefs and beaches and has finally taken KPA and NEMA to court for non-compliance with current legislation. SCRA also succeeded in pushing for a temporary suspension of the sand harvesting until mitigation measures had been implemented.
Remarks: SCRA has won the first round in Court as the submissions by KPA to get the case dismissed have been rejected by the judge and a date for a ruling has been set for 7th July 2020. This is not only important for the current, but also for future expansion projects of KPA.
SCRA has formed a sub-committee to tackle noise pollution issues from not only beach bars and road side bars, but also special events. Noise levels have been measured in conjunction with NEMA, complaints of hotels and their guests as well as privately owned houses have been collected to give us a strong position in case we have to go to court. Talks were held with responsible business owners on ways to reduce the noise emission from their establishments.
Remarks: On-going and very difficult to tackle although we have had some success in some areas: Tandoori has reduced their noise emission and Manyatta received several warnings that their licenses will be withdrawn in case of non-compliance. Bidi Badu has reduced concerts.
Annual / Ongoing
BLOOD GROUP DATA BASE:
SCRA maintains a Blood Group Data so that in case of emergency SCRA contacts members who are able to donate a particular type of blood. SCRA also cooperates with the Kenya Red Cross of Ukunda.
A constant headache! SCRA works in conjunction with Mash Cleaners, Health Office, Kwale Plastics Plus and the County Government through the Sub-County Administrator, in trying to stop individuals from dumping garbage along the road, on our beaches, in the forests or footpaths or even empty plots. Not only is such garbage an eye sore but it attracts baboons, flies, mosquitoes and crows and is a complete health hazard as this brings various diseases.
SCRA and Security Group (who are also represented on the SCRA Committee) are normally the first to be informed of a fire outbreak and are always on the forefront in helping extinguish it. The Ukunda Airstrip fire engine is called as are hotels with mobile fire fighting equipment etc. We try to help with the fire but also give assistance to anybody in need.
Remarks: Since writing this report, we now have additional 2 fire engines in our area. However, since SCRA are normally called, and if the fire is not massive, we receive first class immediate response from Security Group who work closely with our Association.
EYE SCREENING FOR FISHERMEN:
This is a yearly exercise carried out by SCRA in conjunction with Kwale District Eye Centre. We raise funds for this and normally about 100 fishermen have their eyes tested. Eye drops, spectacles or sun glasses are given to them and in some cases cataract surgery is performed. This free annual service has resulted in sight saving operations.
SCRA constantly keeps their members informed of what is going on all the time, reminding members of due payments such as Land Rent and Land Rates, assists on NSSF, NHIF, informs them of new laws and of events taking place.
FISHERMEN’S REGATTA (NGALAWA REGATTA):
SCRA plays an integral part in the organisation of the annual Fishermen’s Regatta together with Mr Gerald Gambo of SCCEA. This event brings the local community, residents and tourists together and provides a showcase for local women’s groups to promote their craft, food and culture. At the same time spectators enjoy watching fishermen racing their ngalawas. This celebration of local culture, in its 8th year, has grown and is now established on the calendar as one of Diani’s trademark events with both local and corporate sponsors and a large following of local residents and international visitors.
DIANI TURTLE WATCH:
In 2014, realising the dangers turtles face on the South Coast from beach operators , sea walls, beach restaurants etc. ), the SCRA embarked on a campaign to train turtle monitors in Watamu at Watamu Turtle Watch at a cost of Ksh 10,000 per monitor. These monitors then come back to educate the beach operators on how to treat turtles, as well as collect turtle eggs from vulnerable sites to safe havens for successful hatching. They also rescue any turtles found in dangerous situations such as being entangled in fishermen’s nets. By the end of 2014, a total of 922 eggs had been translocated to safe sites and 813 hatchlings safely made it to the Indian Ocean.
SUPPORT TO THE COLOBUS CONSERVATION INITIATIVE:
Colobus Conservation was established in 1997 as a not-for-profit organisation to promote conservation of the Colobus angolensis monkeys and address the threats to its survival. The organization works in partnership with local communities to promote the conservation of the Colobus, along with other endemic primate species, and the unique coastal forest habitat on which they depend. Today Colobus Conservation programmes focus on habitat conservation and community linkages as well as human/primate conflict management, welfare, education and research. The activities of the Colobus Conservation initiative ensures that our remaining coastal forest patches are conserved as far as possible, while protecting the endangered species and resolving human – primates conflicts along the South Coast.
SCRA is an active supporter of the Colobus Conservation initiative through fund raising and actively participating in the activities of the organisation.
2013. MINING AT MRIMA HILL:
Mrima Hill Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1961, and made a nature reserve under the Forest Act in the early 1980s. Mrima Hill is also a Kaya, recognized by the site’s gazettement as Mrima Hill Sacred Grove National Museum in 1992. Mrima Hill is one of the oldest forests in the world, hosts rare tree species, rare bird species, a number of smaller wildlife including the endangered Colobus angolensis palliates monkey. The SCRA Committee spent days going through the shoddy EIA which was presented for NEMA approval. Together with Colobus Conservation, WWF, Kenya Forest Forum, Kwale County Natural Resources Network and others we attended the NEMA workshop and all shared our findings which were sent to the Director General of NEMA and to our Kwale County Governor. SCRA was instrumental in exposing the risk of radiation which could be caused by the mining project which had not been adequately addressed in the EIA. The Mrima Hill area has a surrounding population of over 44,000 people and radiation could affect an area with a radius of over 250 km. SCRA brought this to public attention, requesting that a qualified expert be brought in to study radiation and its effects around this hill. This was never forthcoming.
2013-2016. SAND DREDGER/HARVESTER IN DIANI:
SCRA was alerted by its members that a sand dredger/harvester was slowly moving along just off our reefs taking sand. The sand is required for the construction of the new railway line. An alert was sent to all interested parties as this was going to cause huge ecological damages not only to our reefs, diving areas and mangrove forests, fishermen but also to our beaches. Diani Beach has been voted the most beautiful beach in Africa. SCRA requested the company doing the EIA to convene a stakeholders workshop and recruited over 300 people from all walks of life, fishermen, marine experts/biologists, our Minister of Tourism Hon Adam Sheik, our County Government representative Bwana Hamisi Mwandaro, K.W.S. etc. to attend this meeting where everybody voiced their concerns. All turned down this project and requested the Chinese company to look elsewhere for their sand.
Remarks: Meetings and workshops were held, many SCRA members helped us either by taking aerial photographs, tracking the ships, informing us when the dredgers were close to our reef, Mr Elias Kimaru of WWF and KCNRN and finally SCRA instructed their lawyer, Mr Felix Midikira, to take to Court the parties involved with our key figures having to go to Nairobi and testify in Court. The road to having won the Court case against NEMA for a substandard Environmental Impact Assessment Report instead of a FULL STUDY and subsequently for issuing a licence to China Railway & Bridge Corporation (CRBC), was long and tortuous, full of deceit, lies, corruption and cover ups. Nobody in Government including KPA, KMA, KWS, and even journalists were allowed to speak to us and we felt abandoned and on our own. The Court case started in late 2013 and suddenly on Friday 22nd January 2016 all the lawyers were requested to attend Court at 13.30 for the Magistrates’ judgement. The verdict was in our favour, we had won!! We won the case and the sand dredger was asked to leave the South Coast. We have proved that whoever is behind any project, people and associations should not be intimidated and should fight for their rights. IT CAN BE DONE and we hope that many other organisations will follow suit. (a full report on this issue can be obtained from the Chairperson)
ROAD SAFETY – REFLECTIVE STRIPS ON BODA BODA’s:
So far over 2,000 boda bodas in Diani/Ukunda/Ngombani/Kwale/Msambweni have had reflective strips put on their boda bodas with a view to making them more visible especially at night, and reducing road traffic accidents. During this exercise boda boda drivers are taught a bit on road safety and caution.
Remarks: Exercise was completed as funds to purchase more reflectors not available. It was noted at the police station where all accident boda boda are kept, very few had reflective tapes which means exercise was successful.
For the convenience of road users, SCRA painted the new speed bumps erected along Diani Beach Road and near Nakumatt.
SCRA assisted and represented its members living in Diani North who live next to the then proposed crematorium. It should be mentioned that it was not the crematorium per se that was objected to but rather the location of the crematorium on a small plot of land in the middle of a residential estate. It was not only the Muslims who objected but other land owners and residents as the stench from the trial goat burning alerted them to the intended use of a building which was constructed as a private residence and they were outraged. At that time the County Council had allocated land for a cemetery (Muslim one side and Christian the other) which would have been an appropriate place to put a crematorium.
Remarks: This issue is now over – no crematorium!
2017 ILLEGAL PETROL STATION:
SCRA was alerted that a container had been placed in a parking lot near Diani Beach Hospital and was to be a petrol station! This was deemed as highly dangerous as the petrol was stored inside the container under the hot sun (and not underground as per the law), it was operated by a generator and was right next to a KP&L transformer. In other words – a bomb waiting to explode! SCRA alerted our County Authorities and Sub-County Administrator.
Remarks: The owners of the container were refused any rights or permits to operate and were told to remove everything. This was eventually done.
2006 - 2008 - project to clean up Ukunda as gateway to Diani.
SCRA employed 2 men from Kibera to educate local people about recycling waste and created football teams which competed for prominence on the field in each of 13 villages comprising Ukunda. Scores were weighted according to cleanliness of village. Worked with Clerk to Council to give prizes, wheelbarrows, spades etc. Local businesses donated other items and water for cleanups. Kwale Council bought the skips you see rotting today and new lorries and instituted regular collections. Hotels and local businesses donated uniforms, balls etc and adopted a team.
Remarks: Unfortunately, election violence put an end to this because the bottom fell out of the tourism market and the hotels shut down. If someone would take it on this could be revived.