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Tourism industry: Chinese firm ruining tourist beach

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent  May 10, 2016

The fight continues over Kenya's award winning Diani beaches, to either save them or else see them destroyed by ongoing, and by the look of it illegal, sand extraction close to the reef during many nights under the cover of darkness.

The South Coast Residents Association had taken the battle to court and won an intermediate victory that no dredging will be allowed until such time that a full environmental impact study has been compiled, which, when ready, is expected to confirm that sand extraction as practiced by the Chinese, is unsustainable and will lead to the destruction of the beach.

When the news was initially broken, several well-known individuals, perhaps as a result of divided loyalties, questioned the facts and validity of the revelation, but it has since become all but clear that here, as elsewhere, the truth was exposed, liked or not by the powerful lobby behind the current construction of the new Standard Gauge Railway and related installation at the port of Mombasa.

Governor Salim Mvurya, an outspoken critic of the illegal sand extraction, who has spoken out repeatedly in the past and not just denounced the practice but prohibited it under his powers as County Governor continues to hit out hard against the perpetrators of these environmental atrocities.

In fact, repeated arguments made here before about the clear and present danger to these wonderful beaches and the entire tourism industry along the south coast have found their way into the official opposition against the project from residents and county government.

As previously demonstrated, sections of the Tiwi beaches have been eroded of sand as a result of such irresponsible dredging practices, and Diani could head the same way if the perpetrators are not stopped in their tracks.

A recent visit to Ukunda and the South Coast, and talks with a number of stakeholders on this subject, revealed a unanimity rarely seen before, all acutely aware what is at stake for them. The choice will be to retain their globally-renowned beaches, magnets for holidaymakers from around the world, or else loose them to the greed by construction companies from China and their local godfathers and backers who clearly do not give a damn about the future of tourism in Diani as long as they rake in profits through such irresponsible shortcuts.
Wrote the Kwale County government in their county journal a year ago:

Start quote:

Governor Mvurya is fighting to stop the killing of our Beach

• County Government

9. Mai 2015

About one month ago we revealed that the Killing of our Indian Ocean Beaches here in Kwale County has not stopped as hoped. Still at night the Chinese Sand Dredger ship leaves the port of Mombasa and is sucking tones and tones of our beach sand to support the building of the new railway.

Believe it or not – everybody knows!!!

Meetings were held – all national newspapers were reporting about it – village elders were claiming – tourism stakeholders were shouting – environmental organizations were presenting impact studies …. nothing helped to stop this huge environmental killing.

The question is WHY?

Dear Eyes-on-Kwale fans and followers – we all know why!! Driven by the Chinese constructing company all important decision makers like NEMA and KPA (Kenya Port Authority) and maybe some top national government positions have connected to find their way against the interest of Kwale County.

Last month we asked the Kwale County Government about their position and they confirmed they are totally against the sand dredging. Then we were waiting to see what they would come up with.

We believe that our Governor Salim Mvurya did as much as he can to stop it via his official mandate consulting the related stakeholders – but it looks like without success!!!

NOW – Governor Mvurya came up with a brilliant way to increase public pressure. He placed a one page add in the Daily Nation describing the situation and calling everybody to help stopping this scandal.

End quote:

The situation today is that night after night residents are on the lookout now, some with cameras at hand, to capture any images or record dredging sounds as new evidence, which may come in handy when the matter either heads back to the environmental tribunal or outright to the High Court of Kenya in Mombasa.

For now, the beaches once again look splendid in the sunshine, with tourists engaging in water sports or going out to the reef to snorkel, dive, or head beyond for some deep-sea fishing, while others engaged in skydiving or enjoying rides in ultralight aircraft get to see what their resort looks like from a birds-eye view.

A full feature article about the visit to Diani is in the making and will showcase just how unique and special this part of the Kenya coast is and why it deserves to be preserved and protected for generations to come.

Tourism industry: Chinese firm ruining tourist beach

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