The quest to build Africa’s tallest buildings has received mixed reactions as supporters and critics of the project continue to debate their opinions. The project suffered a drawback as Tourism PS Najib Balala raised opposition citing its proximity to the beach.
The move did not sit well with many Kenyans as the project proponents had already gone through the required regulatory processes from local community participation, County government approval, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and the National Environment Management Authority.
They faulted government officials for attempting to decide for private investors on where to put their money, something they say does not happen anywhere in the world.
However, the project has also received opposition from some civil society groups who have launched an online petition claiming the 61-storey building is too large for Watamu. However, a section of Kenyans have termed the petition as a malicious attempt bankrolled by foreign investors and NGOs operating facilities in Watamu for fear of competition.
Some have questioned the reason for he political backlash given that the government has no strategic plan for Watamu. Amidst claims by some members of the public that the project isn’t viable for Watamu, supporters have questioned the basis of relying on public opinion to determine the financial viability of large private investments, a matter usually left to financial backers with years of experience.
Investors are responsible for their own risks and loses, and others have questioned what the country has to lose if the investors fails in their private venture.
While some critics claim the project would ruin the beauty of Watamu and its coastal marine heritage, proponents say the building would inject needed life in the otherwise sleepy coastal town, shaking off archaic Makuti resorts and giving it a modern character, creating massive employment in the process and attracting more tourists.
In the meantime, the fate of the KSh. 28 billlion project remains unknown.