When drafters of the Constitution designed Article 189 of the Constitution on the relationships between the national and county government, they envisaged goodwill from both ends to fulfil the interdependence requisite.
Unfortunately, more than a decade of the devolved system of government counties have experienced territorial marking by the national government than interdependence, including functions clearly marked as devolved.
For the case of Mombasa, the national government has gone to the extent of usurping devolved functions, and the case of Mama Ngina Recreational Park comes to mind.
Mama Ngina recreational park is a 26 acres seafront open public space bordering the Indian Ocean at Likoni Ferry channel christening the deep history of Mombasa and the East Africa.
In 2019, the national government through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture took over the recreational park with the Trojan horse of regenerating and restoring it. Five years later, the park is yet to be reverted to the county and no explanation has been provided.
When the National Museums of Kenya completed the construction, a moribund management board was set up under the same Ministry to manage the park. The national government usurping this exclusive jurisdiction to manage the park was utter unconstitutional, Fourth Schedule of the Constitution explicitly stipulates that recreational parks are under the jurisdiction of County governments.
To the surprise of Mombasa residents, this illegality went unchecked and continues unabated.
A few days ago, it was reported in the media that the national government was engaging Nairobi County government on the handover of Uhuru Gardens which has been under the management of the National Museums of Kenya.
The question that lingers is, why isn’t the same national government having the same engagement with Mombasa County on the handover of Mama Ngina recreational park? How is the case of Mama Ngina recreational park different?
It is worth noting that the county of Mombasa has engaged the national government on several occasion to kickstart the process of handing over Mama Ngina recreational park but the response has been contemptuous with an attitude of “see no evil hear no evil.”
So, the question Mombasa residents are posing to the national government is, what is the national government’s plan with Mama Ngina Recreational Park?
If the concern is about the capacity to run and manage the park, the county government has a well-established city inspectorate and public health system well-placed to manage the park. In fact, currently, the park is only managed by a team of four staff members, therefore, the issue of capacity does not arise.
Abdirahman Hussein is the Member of County Assembly of Mombasa representing Old Town Ward