The county government of Kilifi has moved to avert a possible class between a hotelier and a group of youth establishing beach Bandas at Vidazini public beach.
Last week, the fisheries department chief officer Stephen Mwaakai met with different stakeholders to try and reach a truce between the hotelier and the locals.
The meeting follows a letter by Kilifi Mada hotels General manager Peter Njoroge who accused the youths of beach degradation and encroachment along the Bofa Beach.
Njoroge had decried an alleged invasion by a group of local youth who are constructing makeshifts for use as bars and restaurant.
Speaking after the meeting, Mwakai said Beach Management Units are the ones which are mandated to oversee the management and operations of the beaches.
“We had an incident that some of the BMUs members who are beach operators were arrested regarding construction of a beach bar at Bofa beach. The matter came to us a bit late and we took it upon us to have a meeting to discuss the matter and find a solution,” said Mwakai.
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Mwakai said the County Department of fisheries has the mandate to ensure all the beaches and fishermen are safe and also that all the activities that are going on at the beaches are legal in line with the Fisheries Act and the BMU Regulation Act 2017.
He said the department will embark on a vetting exercise of all the people that wanted to conduct business along the Bofa beach.
“We are going to use the criteria that we have always used when vetting BMU members. We want to know who these people that want to do business at the beach are. They must follow all the rules and regulations required by any government agency before they start their work,” he said.
Other stakeholders that attended the meeting were officers from the security team, department of lands and physical planning, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and water resources management Authority (WRMA)
Sokoni ward MCA Gilbert Peru condemned the arrest of the two men who had established their businesses at the beach.
He said the youth are trying to have a legitimate living.
“We are having issues with matters of unemployment and the youth thought that it was good for them to be self-employed. They borrowed examples of other beaches in the Country. This is not an issue that should force the police to arrest them,” he said
Peru said the youths should be guided to be within the law.
“These stakeholders who are complaining want to victimize a Kilifi Youth so that he cannot benefit from resources that are available in their region. We should let our youth embrace any opportunity that will have them earn a decent living,” he added.
He said the security team led by the Kilifi North Police commander Njoroge Ngigi have not come out clear to state who is the complainant that led to arrest of the two men.
“At first they said it was NEMA who were complaining after a while they changed and said water resources management authority (WRMA) while we know BMUs are in charge of the beaches and landing sites. We will not allow the police to be misused by individuals for their own interests,” he said.
However Peru said he was going to table a motion in the County Assembly for a fresh zoning of all the properties along the beaches.
He said it will be difficult for the Kilifi youth to benefit from the blue economy if they will be denied access to the beach.
Peru disclosed that there was a medical doctor of Ugandan nationality who was working with one of the hotel owners and were having intentions to set up a beach bar.