CS Balala & MP Clash Over 61-Storey Hotel
Tourism CS Najib Balala and Kilifi North MP, Owen Baya, are on a collision course and a proposed 61-storey hotel in Lamu County, is at the centre of the matter.
On Tuesday, Nation reported that CS Balala has written to NEMA, seeking to block the construction of the Palm Exotica Building, which if completed, will be Africa's tallest building.
“That skyscraper should not be built. I have already given my objection to NEMA. If anyone wants to build such a skyscraper, it should be in Nairobi or Mombasa, not on a beach in Watamu,” the CS commented.
He argued that “it will be against environmental regulations”, as its location is “just 100 metres from Turtle Bay Beach”.
The Kilifi North MP, on the other hand, has accused the CS of acting on behalf of hotel owners, who are afraid that the upcoming hotel will lower their bookings.
"It is absurd to see a Cabinet Secretary, who is supposed to promote tourism in Watamu, opposing a project that will create many jobs for our youth,” Baya spoke.
"Those opposed to the project are Balala and a few foreign investors, who think the tower will ‘block’ guests in small hotels and villas, from having a clear view of the Indian Ocean.
"We have been waiting for this project for a long time. Balala is not a NEMA official. He should stop serving the interests of foreigners," added the MP.
If constructed, the building will be 370 metres tall and is expected to overlook Watamu and the Malindi Marine National Park.
The proposed skyscraper has been designed by Rome-based architect, Lorenzo Pagnini. It is expected to have luxury suites and a 24-hour casino.
The building will also have a 270-bed hotel, a shopping mall and a night club.
It will have 180 serviced apartments, office suites, a conference centre and restaurants. The tower developers are a consortium of investors from South Africa, New York and Italian billionaire Franco Rosso, 89.
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