To Gov Joho & CS Macharia. Kibarani traffic gridlock now needs your personal attention.

Cry my beloved city of Mombasa.

In the last few days the traffic gridlock  at Kibarani  is simply crazy .

The main cause of this mess is mainly attributed to trucks but you will ask me we have always had trucks.

Now something happened on the left side of the road as you start to ascend the Kibarani hill. Some people were allowed to reclaim land from the ocean and all three of them look like are in heavy commercial vehicle business. While going uphill  was already a challenge why would any sensible authority allow anyone to turn this area into a truck yard making an already bad situation even worse.

Now why would any authority be it county or national choose to look the other way when such crazy move is being undertaken right under their nose.

Where is NEMA  ? They never hesitate to prosecute even when you chose to alter the size of your Verandah?

Where are the overzealous county Inspectorate?

What about KPA? When private individuals are busy backfilling  the ocean again right under their watch. Is this where impunity has taken us

Now we have close to 200+ trucks entering or leaving these new land while one actually  looks like a yard to store coal. Now surely how on earth would NEMA choose to look the other way when such a serious pollutant is set up right next to a mass of water ?

The only  entry into Mombasa island now belongs to truckers  while in serious countries trucks are never allowed anywhere near the city.

For the first time I see  NO future for Mombasa.  Now that the Dongo Kundu bypass to South Coast is entering the 2nd & 3rd phase then Mombasa and it’s  little cousin Mtwapa  will be forgotten as they fight for space to be be the dirtiest and traffic gridlocked place on Kenya Coast.

To Governor Joho , you and I are close friends but I drop this right at your doorstep.  You have the power  , you have the authority to restore sanity . You have the energy ,I have seen your energy levels on other issues. This matter now needs your full attention and we can nolonger wish  it away.   I am afraid this is now sheer madness and no investor let alone a tourist be it domestic or international would waste their money on Mombasa. As Tourism stakeholders  and Mombasa residents you have our full support in stopping trucking companies turning the Kibarani area into a parking area.

To CS  Macharia  you equally need to give your personal attention to this Kibarani  woes. This is the entry and exit to Mombasa city.  We appreciate you are  focussed on the SGR but how will anyone get the new SGR station when we can’t even get past  Kibarani?

To those businessmen  I leave you with this >>>  Life is NOT all about money. You can still do legitimate business without violating the rights of others or damaging the environment. .You may pay your way to get all  the approvals.

Do you sleep well when you see the mess you are causing?

Patients dying in traffic gridlock because the ambulance could not find a way through. What  is the use to be the highest donor at your Mosque , Church or Temple when day in day out you choose to do all the wrong things. Trust me it will catch up with you. Meanwhile we shall NOT choose to look the other way , we shall ensure the authorities do the right thing.

Disclaimer: We have good serious trucking companies who operate in a professional manner. The serious ones have even bought land in Mariakani  while the lazy  ones who don’t see the future are busy insisting to have their trucks next to KPA  head office.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman Kenya Coast Tourism Association  & a Mombasa resident.

You want to benchmark on city planning , go next door Kigali NOT Singapore.

​Rwanda Kigali  next door neighbour is showing the rest of Sub  Saharan  Africa that indeed growth of a city can be done in an orderly manner.

Please note the orderly manner in which the residential homes are coming up replacing the current red bricks homes synonymous with Kigali. How I wish the same could happen in our cities and towns.

I recall chatting with a fellow Kenyan in Kigali and He quipped ” There is too much order Bwana ”

Well these are the sort of  things that make me not give up on Africa, they call it a continent many of us a call it home.

Rwanda is leading the way to kill the common notion that feeds mediocrity  ( This Is  Africa . TIA  )

As always I choose to remain an optimist.  To Rwandan people create  your own path and banish the nonsensical myth that nothing good comes out of Sub Saharan Africa.  From T.I.A ( This Is Africa)  to P.A ( Proudly Africa.)

Kigali and Rwanda should inspire the rest of Africa with far bigger resources yet choose to wallow in dirt and urban chaos 24/7.

Accidents, What’s the use to travel at night to save a few hours?

Waking up to tragic news of 19 dead on Nakuru Mbaruk  road  is sad indeed .

Just the other day close to 40 people perished on Nbi Mombasa highway . Kenyans no longer cringe when they see these numbers.

Several things are common. 

1. Most accidents involve a truck and a bus sometimes a Nissan van.

2. Most accidents happen  at night, many between 2 am and 5 am.

3 . Most accidents are head on crash where more often that not a Matatu will be overtaking either another bus or a long truck

Allow me to pose some very hard questions. Let us assume the police have failed and indeed they have to stop these carnage . What can we do as individuals?.

1.Is there any use of travelling at night? Is there any use trying to save some 12 hours only to end up 6 feet under. The worst part are the young ones and dependants you leave behind. My employees I will be more than happy to allow you to report some hours late rather than expose yourself to this danger 

2. I have lost 3 close friends in the last 3 months who were involved in an accident at night coming back from a funeral. Family is already mourning why are you so keen to add more misery . 

3.Most of these drivers are tired , some are high on something to remain alert hence their ability to make a judgement  is seriously impaired. In early 90’s I took a night bus from Nbi to Migori and I vowed never again.its nothing but a death trap. In later years I travel daytime only. 

4. These days the drivers survive and they take off from the scene of accident.  It means they have an idea what could happen and they keep their side away from the impact. This is real.

Good people we see so many people die in accidents we now think it’s normal . It is NOT . Ours is a very sick society but YOU yes YOU can make a choice and avoid being on this killer highways at night. Anything after 9pm on these narrow  highways you simply increase  your chance to die in accident. 

At night let trucks  have their way , truth be said more often than not it’s a crazy bus or Matatu driver who rams into them It is rarely the other way round. 

As always I choose to remain an optimist.  Let us do what we can to remain safe . 

Have a relaxed safe weekend.

Are we that hopeless against the invasive water hyacinth? I refuse to give up .

I write this post on a sad note . My hotel room at Acacia Premier  hotel  is supposed to have a great view of Lake Victoria ( its not really about my view ) Sadly the lake is no longer visible thanks to water hyacinth that has rendered the lake almost pretty useless.  

The area I have marked in red is supposed to be a beautiful mass of water now all covered by the notorious invasive water hyacinth.  

Hyacinth  menace is not only in Kenya.  How have the rest of the world dealt with it? It can be harvested and it can be mechanically destroyed. As a lover of matters environment we must do something.  

Lake Victoria is the source of River Nile and all the counties that fight for use of Nile should get concerned.  One time Egypt was ready to go to war if any country attempted  to interfere with flow of the  Nile, where are they now? Where is IGAD  ? Both national and county goverments  must have this top on their agenda besides Lake Victoria is considered a future source of water for good part of Kenya..

I personally refuse to accept that hyacinth  has defeated us.  Man is intelligent enough to deal with such and I believe we have what it takes to eradicate it. 

As always I choose ro remain an optimist that this matter will be addressed with both urgency and the importance it deserves.

Junior Stars Kenya & Watoto Soccer Awards Mombasa  is seeking for support !!!

Over the weekend all roads lead to Oshwal Academy Mombasa for the grand opening of the sixth edition of the annual Watoto Africa Soccer Awards, with 57 community teams taking part in the football festival.  In Mombasa, 18 tournaments will be played in the months of April and May. 

Mariam Mpaata, the C.E.O and founder of WASA said that this year alone they want to reach out to more than 10,000 youth by  visiting two other counties that is Nairobi and Trans Nzioa. Plans are also underway to take this initiative to other East African countries. Kenya and Uganda have already embraced the football festival.  “We not only want to nurture talent but also give youth space and time to play which in turn keeps them away from social evils. We also use the WASA platform to promote relevant messages to young people. This year, our theme is fostering peace through cultural diversity which in the long run leads to economic development.” 

I have personally supported them since 2008 and I accepted to be the patron of WASA . I have a keen interest in seeing this country’s youths develop their full potential. I know pretty well the value of investing in the youth. I strongly believe that young people if supported can make a great contribution to this country and Africa at large.  Together we can crisscross this country and our East African neighbours with the WASA concept and give hope to millions of disillusioned youth.

WASA was one of the best youth football projects Mombasa has seen in decades. I have seen the project grow since 2008 when I was first invited as a guest of honour during Junior Stars footbal tournament.

Watoto Africa Soccer Awards is a great initiative that can be used to inspire talent and mould excellent future leaders. Our society is crying for real and genuine values like teamwork and tolerance for diversity that can be picked up while playing as a team. It is from this that our youth who are our future can learn great leadership skills coupled with integrity. Collective effort can indeed create a bigger impact. I am looking forward to supporting WASA’s vision to reach millions of children across the globe, please join me and many others who are already making a difference .

I appeal to Corporates to come forward and support this tangible and visible initiative to help mould the youth.  We cannot fail to thank Nation Media both NTV & Daily Nation for the support in the formative years .  Big thanks to Oshwal  Academy Msa and Aga Khan Secondary for use of their grounds.

You never know you could be helping mould a future Wanyama, Ronaldo, Neymar etc . Junior Stars is purely after talent irrespective of family  background, we are giving a chance to that less fortunate boy or girl but is talented to play football. 

You can reach Mariam on +254712766839

Mohammed Hersi 

Patron WASA

20 Things you need to know about the SGR Project 

#WhyILoveKenya 
This week as Kenya Coast Tourism Association  board  we met MD Kenya Railways Athanas Maina who gave a brief on Standard Gauge Railway .  He spoke for  90 minutes without any notes. We also had a very useful open Q&A.

Allow me to share some of the issues . I have managed to put together several points that I managed to pick from our discussion.

I will  refer  to them as the 20 things you need to know about the SGR.  

1. While the distance length between Mombasa and Nairobi is 472kms the total track laid is 616kms to serve Station areas, workshops and marshalling yards with many passing stations.  We equally do not  have a single level crossing  like what we had on the old line . Ethiopia’s has many level crossing lines.  Level crossing is the cross sign where vehicles are stopped to allow the train  to pass.  The line is all suspended high up in populated areas hence the perceived high cost. 

2. We discussed the issue of schedules and tariffs.  Both will soon be availed . As tourism players we shall play an active role to determine the schedules so that it fits with Jomo Kenyatta  International  Airport arrival schedules to allow connection to Mombasa . It will also be a game changer for domestic tourism.

3. At any one time they can move 1620 passengers.  Initially they only had an economy & first class. After we made a suggestion two months ago they have now  ordered two coaches with flat beds similar to an aircraft. We are honoured that our views count. 

4. The stations are all themed borrowing heavily from the local surroundings. All the stations will be handed over to the community and it is the policy of Kenya Railways  that they employ as many people from the local areas where the stations are  located.  Please watch out for the ads . Over 300 people are already being  trained in China.

5. John Holland of Australia with CRBC  will operate the line including all the stations.

6. Passengers train will all be air conditioned and WiFi enabled.  This is cool . I have said it again and again , riding across Tsavo national park is taking a game drive on a train ticket. This is special. 

7. There will be enough dinning and bar facilities on board the train. 

8. The express train will only stop at Mtito Andei for few minutes.  Next stop will be Mombasa or Nairobi. 

9. Our SGR has close to 40KM of raised super bridges some as high as 40 Metres like  in Tsavo to mitigate against accidents and wild animals underpass. In Nairobi  National Park the super bridge is anything between 8 to 41 metres. 

10. The line is made up of heavy concrete slipers weighing 300KG  which helps to absorb the vibration etc. There is virtually no vibration reaching the ground to disturb the animals. 

No shanties to be allowed around the stations hence County governments must support the project and zone the areas bordering the stations. 

11. Naivasha inland container depot is NOT meant  to undermine Mombasa.  We have always had  Nairobi as a ICD . Naivasha is designated as a Export processing zone. Key hitch for Kenya to attract manufacturers is the cost of power. With next door Geothermal plant , electricity will be very cheap close to free which will be used to attract investors. 

The zone is to produce goods for export including farm produce value addition like Tea etc. 

12. The line will also extend to Kisumu then Malaba , Uganda will then connect from there. It is the dream and goals of EasternAfrica to be connected via train network. 

13. Passengers train is an icing on the cake since the main goal is to move cargo saving our roads from damage and accidents.  The old line passenger line will cease while RVR  will continue to haul cargo and whoever wants to use then is free to do so.

14.They will soon advertise for services at the station including restaurants, shops etc . We cautioned them to stop any fake brand imitating an established international brands . A big NO to likes of Cossta  Coffee at JKIA. 

15. All locomotives are brand new and non are refurbished. The locomotives  are all here and anyone who wants to inspect them is free to do so. 

16. These type of locomotives are still being manufactured and China exports to many countries including Australia and USA.

17. Why China? The Exim  bank were the only guys ready to finance the project . The rest is just noise.  If anyone is ready to finance Naivasha to Malaba please let me know I link you up with Eng Maina. Fact is that others is just talk but no action to indeed finance the line . Chinese are financing very many projects around the world so we are NOT the only ones. 

18. SGR will NOT use current Mombasa and  Nairobi Station . Mombasa station is at Miritini while Nairobi is at Syokimau  bordering the Nbi National Park. Future is to link up with an urban metro 

19.The project will be delivered on 1st June to HE The President 18 months before schedule while they will take 5 months to run the line to check for faults and go full  commercial on 1st Dec 2017 

20. A fam trip will be arranged to Nairobi  and return  same day. KCTA  will liase with KR. Express train will do 4 1/2 hours Nbi Mombasa. 

As always I choose ro remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi 

Chairman 

KCTA

A Truck mounted with blaring speakers  is not advertising , it’s NOISE 

Allow me to comment about the so called road shows where trucks are mounted with defeaning loud speakers ostensibly to promote a product or a service. Folks we cannot pretend to be a country
on the run with such archaic ways of promoting a business.  Such trucks are used worldwide but they are stationed at a park or one place for a few hours but not moving all around the city disturbing peace at schools, hospitals, offices even worship places are not spared. 

This morning on Uhuru highway , a truck with dancers promoting a financial house was simply blasting noise with ear splitting decibels.  The noise levels was simply ear splitting , even if you wound
up your mirrors the vibration was enough to make you uncomfortable. Can you imagine a sick or elderly person going to hospital stuck in a vehicle next to these madness. What about young children whose ear drums have not even fully developed or that investor
who has just landed at JKIA? 

The problem with us Kenyans is that we see this so often that we think it is normal. I will tell you for free IT’S NOT NORMAL. No serious town let alone a city that will allow such madness.
Why would anyone or sensible serious company allow their brand to be hawked in such a manner? 


Why would any city authority or NEMA allow such noise levels in the first place ? How much do they pay to the county for them to be allowed to create such terrible
noise levels.

A serious city will never allow this and it just makes us look so backward simply put its “Ushenzi”. To the firms that do this road shows please fire your marketing team. Are you that desperate and
this applies to all the firms that love doing this. You piss off very many people.

Can serious marketers in Kenya stand up and save us , can the relevant authorities stop this madness, Who will wake up NEMA?

You want to sell a product to me then talk to me nicely, don’t shout at me to make it even worse with mounted speakers.

 

Corrupt officers a big threat to future of JKIA as a hub 

Pic: Courtesy Standard Newspaper

​This morning we woke up to news  that Vietnam police seized more than 100kg of rhino horn smuggled into the country from Nairobi. This is not the first time that a third party is doing what we ought to have done. In the past we could have just ignored it but with our quest to get and retain JKIA as a category 1 hub then we must deal with these bad characters. It is no longer business as usual.

Ironically JKIA and Mombasa port have both cut a niche as transit point for contraband goods more so ivory, game trophies  and even drugs . Credit must be given to the few officers who have chosen to do the right thing by stopping  such goods in transit . Some have paid the ultimate price. We must celebrate these few officers who not only choose to do their work they have also opted to be patriotic. 

Automated systems alone is not enough to halt this bad and illegal practice, it takes patriotism and national pride to take the right call coupled with personal accountability . The officers manning these places be it airports or the port must show alot of self will  and personal integrity beyond reproach. 

Two suitcases stashed with Rhino horns nabbed  at Vietnam airport that is reportedly from JKIA Nbi should all worry us. If we continue to choose to look the other way then it will certainly not be the last .The said suitcases ain’t small , we are talking of a 65KG and a 56KG. Traveling through JKIA with my 23KG bad and my hand luggage we all go through a thorough check before we are allowed to fly. 

Then how comes such heavy cases have slipped through without anyone noticing them. It is simple, it is corruption at play  and it is high time we dealt with it.

Firstly we are showing the world that anything can go through our airport or port which means we must do an audit trail on how the two suitcases were cleared through the airport . We have scanners with clear audit trail and identify all the officers who let it slip through. Where was airport security? KWS officers with their sniffer dogs? What about airline security?

It is embarrassing that officers in Vietnam  chose to do the right thing and stopped the illegal haul . The officers in Vietnam are not better trained than the ones at JKIA  and I bet they are paid even lower salaries. It is all about patriotism and high sense of integrity.  The rhino horn is more valuable in Vietnam than Kenya hence the officers could easily have asked for a higher bribe , they chose not to. It is believed that  rhino horn is now fetching close $100,000 a kilo in far east.

As tourism players and business community  we have been fighting and lobbying hard to get JKIA to be granted a category 1 status to allow direct flights to USA. Regrettably it’s such acts by   unpatriotic and outright corrupt officers who undermine our efforts , simply put it is economic espionage which should be punished in ruthless manner.

I challenge the authorities to do the following:

1. Trace back the entire documentation process of the said suitcases. 

2. Identify all the officers who chose to look the other way and charge them. They should face the same charges as the person who owned the cargo and a lifetime jail will serve them right , that is what the wildlife act says.

Folks it is no longer just about rhino horn , it is national economic interest that is coming under a huge threat by a few shameless unpatriotic officers. 

It is a national shame that Vietnam that is poorer than Kenya is able to face up to these high level criminals.

We now have a new MD at KAA , he must be allowed to sweep every corner and get rid of these non patriotic personnel. Internal Security must also do their bit without any fear or favour. We have had many officers who have done the right thing and we must celebrate them while the ones who choose to look the other way must face the full force of the law.

We want JKIA or Mombasa to be an international hub then we must deal with corruption in a ruthless manner.  Hold to account  any officer who has chosen not do the right thing. 

Well if we chose to be casual  about it then all the investment we are doing to expand and improve these key installations will come to nought.  Such omission only go to undermine our status as a category 1 international airport not to mention the threat of terrorism that remains alive. Why should anyone trust us ?

We should not allow that to happen.  It is about time we dealt with this menace once and for all.

As always I choose to remain an optimist 

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman , Kenya Coast Tourism Association 

Direct flight US TO Nbi , why is it important ?

Direct flight US to Nairobi presents myriad of opportunities  

After many years of lobbying by both private sector and the government of Kenya JKIA  was finally granted category A status.

What does this mean and what are the benefits?

Firstly USA is now the leading source of international tourists to Kenya. American tourists are also high yield visitors when it comes to spend per person. Tbey spend on average 30 % more than your average tourist.   They are very keen on wildlife and they enjoy flying between different parks across Kenya. Wilson Airport  is bound to see more action once they leave JKIA.

Kenya and the region esp Tanzania will also benefit from Latin America and Canadians who may opt to connect via a US aiport with direct flight to Nbi as opposed to transit through Europe .

Most of the American tourists are senior citizens who are also referred to as empty nest couples.  They no longer have young ones but many  bring along their grand children who will be our future guests.  They find the transit through Amsterdam or Heathrow quite long and tedious.

Our national carrier KQ must put its acts  together soonest possible. Its presents our national carrier with a golden opportunity to claw back its market share. 

Direct flight is also a boon for exporters of perishable products like flowers since  quality was getting compromised with the Lengthy transit in Europe. A direct flight will enable us  to deliver fresh produce solidifying our position as an exporter of both floriculture  and horticulture. 

It is also a stamp of approval that it is safe to do business in Kenya. It means many American firms will happily consider Nbi as their base. Well it can only  get better. 

Finally getting the status is one thing. maintaining  the status is more secondary hence the authorities must get more serious and consistent.  We should not allow any reason for US to raise any doubts about the status  they have granted us.

We now join the few countries  in Africa like SA, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco  who enjoy a direct flight. 

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist. Africa some call it a continent , I call it home.

Let Naivasha be , we have Mombasa Special Economic Zone 

Matters Mombasa Port , SGR & Naivasha. The untold story of the planned Mombasa Special Economic Zone .
While lots of focus is being given to effects of Naivasha inland port with  some real and some perceived fears , a key development that will totally change the fortunes of Mombasa & Kwale is being ignored.
We have 3000+  acres allocated to Mombasa Special Economic Zone which is sitting right across Mtongwe side .  What coast leaders should be asking and pushing for is the 2nd phase of Dogo Kundu Bypass which will happen anyway but any fast tracking will help. Japanese & Chinese firms are already eyeing the SEZ.  As a Hotelier I am also eyeing the area for good business hotels , I am sure many hotels will come up catering to the business community.
The economic zone will host a free port & industrial park which means the entire region will flock to Mombasa as opposed to going to Dubai or Guangzhou.  If you want to know what a free port can do just look at thriving Eastleigh supplying DRC, Rwanda Uganda traders with goods .
The free port and the economic zone will completely transform the fortunes of Mombasa and Kwale . The manufacturing that will happen  here will also make us an exporter of finished goods bringing that much talked about value addition saving us much needed forex .
While Mombasa port is currently handling 1M containers the same may double or even triple which is growing the cake this  is called ABUNDANCE MENTALITY . The port of Singapore handles 34M containers ,  Trust me Mombasa will be busy so will be Naivasha saving us the headache of trucks on Nbi Mombasa highway. Kisumu will also get busy once the SGR line gets there.
Well the gem is what I have explained. Mombasa Special Economic Zone is the main thing.
Now You  know.
Well as always I choose to remain an optimist.