Beach operators, Kilifi County feud over resort’s sea wall plan

Italian Flavio Briatore owns Billionare Beach resort. file photo | nmg
Italian Flavio Briatore owns Billionare Beach resort. file photo | nmg 

Beach operators in Malindi have rejected Kilfi County’s move to allow a resort to extend a sea wall along the beach neighbouring a marine park.

Land executive Charles Karisa developed a draft plan on how the beach wall should be built as per a feasibility study by county experts.

In a meeting at Driftwood Beach resort, Mr Karisa said the study showed Billionaire Beach resort put up an environmental-friendly wall to protect the hotel from sea erosion.

“Our experts have carried out the study and have established a technique where the investor can extend the wall without destroying turtle nesting areas and the beach as a whole,” he said.

The wall was built by Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore three years ago using imported material at a cost of Sh50 million to safeguard his property after the ocean began eroding part of the resort.

Mr Karisa who also showed Kenya Wildlife Service officials and lawyers a draft copy of the planned wall, said the technicians were not present to elaborate the efficiency of the wall.

However, the beach operators dismissed the project saying it will interfere with the environment and marine life.

The operators chairman Twalib Ali said the wall will accelerate soil erosion at the beach. The wall, they added, is a threat to the beach and sea life.

“The wall has caused the sea waves to change direction and sweep away our boats, bringing down coconut trees at the beach,” he said adding that “how prepared are you when Tsanami comes to wreak havoc.”

Beach operator Salim Ali Mohamed said the construction was against marine conservation guidelines as it was done at a turtle and crab nesting ground.

“Turtle nesting grounds have been destroyed since the Billionaires Beach resort was constructed on land belonging to the Malindi Marine Park,” he said adding that “there is no law that allows destruction of wildlife.”

However, Mr Philip Chai, the general manager of one of the investment owned by the Italian investor said the technique has been used in other hotels along the coastal strip.

“The intention of the investor is just to protect his investment and he has nothing personal,” he said adding that “it is also within the law for one to protect his property from destruction.”

Mr Chai, who represented hotel operators said ocean water rescinded towards River Sabaki destroying land.

“When the investor built the hotel some years ago, the water place stood very far away from the sea but due to global warming, water has extended into the land and it is now eroding part of the resort,’ he added.

Mr Karisa said another meeting will be held to discuss the way forward with experts.