Changamwe residents in Mombasa have spoken out – they want control over the county economy. And they are demanding local recourses to first benefit them, in agreement with the goal of Okoa Mombasa, a coalition in which MUHURI is a member.
They spoke February 29, 2020, during a public screening at Changamwe social hall organized by InformAction, the Coalition, and MUHURI.
The locals criticized the government for hollowing out Mombasa’s economy to more prosperous counties – Nairobi and Naivasha, through the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) directive. The order compelled importers to clear goods in Nairobi, bypassing Mombasa, consequently killing port-related services that would have benefited the Coastal towns, and those along Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
The government is establishing Naivasha dry port in Rift Valley, instead of Voi — a town within the Coast — contrary to its promise in 2017, a time Uhuru Kenyatta was seeking reelection as the president. Uhuru, then, said Voi dry port will alleviate poverty and unemployment and increase the volume of business, and create job opportunities in the region. But Uhuru reneged on his promise after he retained power.
Changamwe locals are wary of a crafty state’s plan to sell off Container Terminal 2 (CT2), and resultantly, render at least 4,000 Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) workers jobless. Mombasa High Court in 2019 stopped CT2 privatization, a covert government deal that would have benefited a private Swiss-Italian firm, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). The bulk of the KPA workforce, Dock Workers’ Union (DWU) says, are from Changamwe – and in the event of a job loss, they will suffer most.
The locals let out angry emotions caused by the newly extortionist and punitive three per cent turnover tax (TOT) on informal and micro-businesses. The levy risks closing businesses — like many that are dotting Changamwe — or, at worst, sparks a revolt. TOT, payable from January 2020, is a tax demanded of any resident person whose turnover from business does not exceed or is not expected to exceed Sh5 million during any year of income.
The residents will come out in force to rename the so-called Mama Ngina Waterfront park. Mombasa County Assembly committee on Trade, Tourism, and Investment, on February 27, 2020, advertised it will hold a public hearing to rename the park to fit historical and cultural heritage of the Coast, as called for in a petition by Okoa Mombasa. The public participation will be on March 4, 2020, at Tononoka Social Hall.