18-11-2019 by Freddie del Curatolo
There are now just over 30 days left before the start of the high season, marked by the Christmas holidays more than since the start of the dry season that lately, with the climate changes underway, is increasingly virtual. A season that should reactivate the tourism sector of Kenya that, seen from the Italian shore, mainly concerns the coast and in particular the destinations of the County of Kilifi.
Of these, the most represented and representative remains Malindi, with its satellite (although in many ways now represents a planet in itself) Watamu. Malindi, like it or not, is the so-called "hub", both for the presence of the only airport in the County (except for the small landing and take-off area of Vipingo, served by the local company Jetlink, used mainly by golfers of the 18-hole course) and for the services it offers, in terms of business and health.
This year Malindi should benefit from aid for its infrastructure and renovation thanks to funds from the World Bank, the British High Commissioner and the County Government itself.
In fact, some works are already underway and it is hoped that they will be completed before Christmas, thus benefiting the tourism sector, as well as all users of the town, in the vicinity of the high season. In a few days the laying of pipes for the drainage of rainwater at the roundabout that are clogging the city traffic should be completed and the road closed and open again to cars. Pedestrianization work also continues on Tuva Road, behind the great Roundabout mosque. The project includes a commercial street with bazaars and markets, modelled on Stone Town in Zanzibar. Stakeholders and tourism entrepreneurs appreciated the efforts of Kilifi County Government and the attentions they are reserving on Malindi this year.
But the renewal that most restricts the malindi tourism is that of the street of the sea promenade.
The project announced, inaugurated, flaunted by the Governor in person with a sumptuous ceremony right on the site of the alleged works, is living a phase of worrying stalemate: the company that has contracted the work began with great pomp in September, redoing the road surface of the entire area of the Marine Park in Casuarina, and then continued to resurfacing the stretch that goes from the Post Office to Uhuru Garden (square of the gearbox) and beyond. More has been done in a brief time but there is a promise to stakeholders to finish before Christmas. Are we still in time to have also this service for our tourist coming?
During the presentation, as we had announced, the company had explained that the stretch of waterfront would be held last because it would not be a simple renovation, but that it had to be raised all the road and totally rethought the road, including the drainage channels for rainwater. This certainly requires more time than a simple work of reasphalting. In addition there is the concomitance of the works of the beach front, those financed by the World Bank that provide a walk at sea, with sports facilities and gardens. A drainage system is also planned for that project. What would be the point of making two of them? But will it be possible to come to an agreement in time to work together?
At the moment there is no one to answer these questions, just as it is not known why they do not at least resume the work of excavation and road preparation.
For this reason, waiting for answers and putting pressure on the competent Ministry, while the Municipality supports us and tries to speed up the procedures, tourism stakeholders ask that before Christmas there be the possibility at least to make that road viable, even simply by removing holes and stones and leaving it "bare" and smooth, at least to allow the viability in one of the historical stretches of the town with restaurants and necessary connections, as well as the postcard that dominates the tip of Vasco Da Gama and the old and historic area of Malindi. From today we, with the Malindi Green And Blue movement and the responsible citizens, will resume our activity to reach the minimum objective: to have a viable and decent Malindi for the arrival of foreign and Kenyan tourists.
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by Freddie del Curatolo
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