The week of 25-30 March was heated in Mombasa. Public outcry on the ongoing dredging/dumping and sand harvesting by two vessels was growing to a fever pitch, resulting in the Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Transport, Mr. James Macharia, putting a stop to the activities with a tweet on 26 March 2019.
A meeting was called by Kenya Ports Authority on 27 March, in which the two principal stakeholders fighting the activities, David Obura (from a science perspective) and Mohammed Hersi with Sammy Ikwaye (from tourism) faced off with the project teams – KPA itself, the Japanese firm (Toyo Construction), the Dutch engineering firm (Boskalis) that owns the dredger at the center of the controversy, the firm running the environmental component of the project, BAC Engineering, and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
The purpose of this post is to outline my understanding of what was decided as the next course of action, as these begin to unfold. This is partly to try and allay fears among stakeholders that the one visible step so far is all that will happen, but also to compensate for the formal meeting minutes not capturing the full scope of change that I and Mohamme Hersi and Sammy Ikwaye pushed for as stakeholders. A journey of 1000 miles begins with a step, and this is to outline what next we want to happen after the first step.
This post reflects my perspective as a researcher more than that of my tourism colleagues. Also see this KPA web-page for documentation on environmental matters.
Summary – what was agreed and why?
The problem is in large part one of communication/engagement, and improper environmental planning. Communication will be resolved by providing more information and openness of project/KPA processes to stakeholders, while the environmental planning component can be resolved by appropriate studies and communicating their findings openly.
The dumping location is legal, so clear communication on the decision identifying it, and credibly demonstrating to the public the lack of impact shown by monitoring, are priorities. Further steps can be made to improve these studies, and if appropriate, make further decisions based on this.
See further details here.
The current degree of impact needs urgently to be determined, and based on this, next steps identified. This experience will be used to assure appropriate design of marine monitoring for mega-projects, and improved decision-making on use of resources, including through Strategic Environmental Assessments to facilitate long term and multi-sectoral planning.
See further details here.