Beach operators in Malindi Tuesday protested against Billionaire Resort's move to extend a sea wall along a beach neighbouring a marine park.
They demonstrated along Malindi Marine National Park beach as contractors built the wall at the Billionaire beach amid tight security.
Led by their vice-chairman, Mr Twalib Ali, they said that the wall has accelerated sea erosion at the beach and has become a threat to beach and sea life.
“The wall has caused the sea waves to change direction and sweep away our boats, felling down coconuts trees at the beach,” he said.
However, Mr Philip Chai, the general manager of one of the investments owned by Italian investor Flavio Briatore, said the project would proceed despite the protest.
“We have all the documents authorising us to proceed with the erection of the wall to safe guard the hotel from sea erosion,” he told the Business Daily at the resort and barred journalists from taking footage of the construction work threatening to arrest them.
His sentiments were echoed by the Deputy County Commissioner Karung’o Kamau, who said the resort had been cleared by Kenya Wildlife Serice (KWS), the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the county government.
“We had invited representatives from Billionaire beach resort and beach operators for a meeting to show them the documents authoring the resort to proceed with the project,” he told the Business Daily.
The wall was built by the Italian billionaire Briatore three years ago using imported material at a cost of Sh50 million in order to safeguard his property after the ocean began eroding part of the resort.
Mr Salim Ali Mohamed, a member of beach operators association told journalists that the construction was against marine conservation guidelines since it was done at a turtle nesting ground.
“Turtle nesting grounds have been destroyed since the Billionaire Resort was constructed on land belonging to the Malindi Marine Park,” he said.
Mr Mohamed said about 100 coconut and casuarina trees had already fallen as a result of sea erosion caused by the erection of the wall after the sea changed its currents to the marine park.
“Let KWS tell us if Mr Flavio Briatore is more important than the environment so that we can also join in destroying the Marine Park,” he said.
According to Mr Mohamed, Billionaire Resort was constructed on the marine park land where trees and bushes once stood, giving it a good nesting place for turtles.
“The ocean pressure hitting the wall has made the ocean pressure to change direction to the marine park beach causing massive erosion at the seafront and felling down trees,” he said.