Mombasa county gubernatorial candidates have protested over an “order” allegedly issued by Governor Hassan Joho prohibiting erection of their billboards.
They claim the governor has issued instructions to outdoor advertising companies that they should not put up billboards for other contenders including Hassan Omar (Wiper), Suleiman Shahbal (Jubilee), Jabes Oduor (Independent) and Hezron Awiti (Vibrant Democratic Party).
“I have tried to secure space over the past month in vain but the advertisers claim they have been asked not to allow any other billboard within the county,” said Mr Omar.
There are two main firms – Magnate Ventures Limited and Adsite Advertising Limited offering outdoor advertising in Mombasa.
Mr Awiti on his part said he would erect his billboards whether the governor wants it or not.
“I am a Kenyan vying for the governor seat legitimately and I will place my advertisement at the appropriate spots. Let him pull mine down and I will take appropriate action,” he said.
Mr Oduor said five of his billboards were pulled down, resulting to a loss of over Sh4 million since he had already paid the advertising fee of Sh250,000 per month for three months.
“I had to go to court and reinstate one stationed in Nyali and even as we speak there are two police officers guarding it 24 hours to prevent hired goons from pulling it down. But I will sue whoever was responsible for the destruction so that I am compensated for the loss,” he said.
Speaking when he flagged off 500 women at the Miritini Madaraka Express train station, Mr Shahbal said the governor had threatened advertising firms with unspecified consequences if they accepted their billboards.
“We continue to see a situation where other candidates are being intimidated. But what we are telling the governor is that he can keep the billboard. What matters is the presence on the ground. We are with the people but he is on billboards and on August 8 Mombasa residents will decide,” he said.
While Richard Chacha, county director of communication, could not be reached for comments over the accusation as he was said to be in a meeting by the time of going to press, ODM county chairman said the governor had not given such orders.
“They are blaming Joho for no reason because he is not even aware since he has been out of the country,” Mr Hatimy said.
According to an officer at the county government who spoke on condition of anonymity, the advertisers are said to have raised concern over “aggressive business environment” in Mombasa.