By Joshua Nyamori
(Joshua Nyamori is a lawyer, social-economist, social justice activist and a former Student leader at Maseno University)
The County Government of Kisumu has allocated Sh15 million towards the development of Hippo Point.
The money is, ostensibly to be used for fencing, building a viewing point, erecting a jetty and constructing a swimming pool. Under ordinary circumstances, we should congratulate the county government for the decision to upgrade the only public beach that remains accessible to the ordinary people on the shores of Lake Victoria, especially for watching the sunset and the hippos but, not in this is not the case.
This beach has long been grabbed by the Empire and sold to the friend owning Grain Bulk at a consideration of Sh100 million. In July 2011, councillors were rounded up from the wards all over the city to attend an urgent Full Council meeting to ratify the fraudulent grabbing of Hippo Point by the Empire, clothed as an investor called Nam Lolwe Investment Ltd.
The councillors were allowed to query the purpose and speed of this transfer. The resolution was used to effect a “75 years sub-lease” transfer on August 1, 2011, to the said Nam Lolwe Investment Ltd and the title below issued to the company.
The company has since transferred the fraudulently acquired interest to Grain Bulk chap at a consideration of Sh100 million. One of the reasons why Ranguma was kicked out of office by the Empire was his refusal to allow his officers to approve the change of user and building plans for a multi-million hotel to be built on that site by the Grant Bulk owner.
I am not opposed to private investments around Lake Victoria. We badly need such. My problem is the outright theft of the few remaining public utility beaches under the guise of “development”. Hippo Point is a commonwealth of the people of Kisumu.
When a private developer puts up a 5-star hotel there, the ordinary residents of Nyalenda, Obunga, Manyatta, Nyamasaria, Bandani etc will have no access to the beach front. A very good example of such conversion can be seen in the beach fronts occupied the Yatch Club, Nyanza Golf Club etc.
As I always say, the appetite for public land by the Empire is the reason why the county government of Kisumu will never be allowed to conduct its affairs freely. So many pieces have been grabbed and a number are earmarked for grabbing.
Just a few months ago the governor was forced to literally eat his own vomit, by disowning a public notice demanding payment of rate arrears from defaulters, the highest being the Empire.
The issue was not the rates, rather, it was that the records of massive fraudulent acquisition of public land by the Empire had been exposed to the public for the first time. Now, the biggest challenge for the Emperor has been how to take vacant possession of the Hippo Point beach and allow its “investor” to start building without public protest, considering the constant heavy traffic to the beach to view the sunset and watch Hippos.
The move by the county government must, therefore, be read for what it is; a hoodwink of the masses that improvements are being done for their benefit so that they allow the cordoning off of the beach to give way for construction of the proposed hotel.
Later, when public interest will have diminished due to the “well-intentioned” blockade, the public will be told a lie that the administration is in strategic partnership with an investor for the benefit of the public.
In the real sense, what is enveloping is outright theft of a strategic public utility land for the benefit of the Empire. I challenge the county government that if it has genuine intentions, it should first be courageous enough to demand that National Land Commission revokes the sublease title to Nam Lolwe Investment and any subsequent transfers before it sinks public money into the scandal, otherwise it shall be treated as an active conspirator.
The conspirators can be sure of one thing: That in the fullness of time, each and every property stolen from the people of Kisumu shall revert back to the public.