- Mombasa County Governor Hassan Joho on June issued an administration directive instructing all buildings within the coastal City be painted white with blue colour.
- The move was met with resistance at first, with the Commission For Human Rights and Justice (CFHRJ) even moving to court to challenge it but the petition flopped.
- A spot-check of the CBD reveals an already-changing aesthetic which like a jigsaw puzzle is slowing coming together to form the background of the most photographed city in Africa.
Kenya's main tourist hub is changing before our very eyes thanks to a governor's stroke of genius to make it the most photographed city in Africa
Mombasa City is well on its way to becoming the most photographed city in Africa, thanks to Joho's directive.
Kenyas main tourist hub is changing before our very eyes thanks to a Kenyan governor with larger than life personality who is on a mission to make his county the most photographed city in Africa.
Mombasa County Governor Hassan Joho on June issued an administration directive instructing all buildings within the coastal City be painted white with blue colour.
According to the order, all buildings in the CBD and Old Town are to be painted in white with Egyptian blue border on the edges and windows above without any sign written on the wall or canopy.
“We picked the colour blue because it represents our heritage, the sea that is around us. The ocean is dear to our hearts. As a people we encounter it every day. People are asking why, but Mombasa has always been a tourist destination and we want to regain what we had lost,” a local business daily reported Transport, Infrastructure and Public Works County Executive Tawfiq Balala saying Monday.
The governor’s uniform colour order is aimed at promoting culture, preserve heritage and promote the county as a tourism hub.
The move was met with resistance at first, with the Commission For Human Rights and Justice (CFHRJ) even moving to court to challenge it but the petition flopped after Resident Judge Erick Ogolla declined to suspend the governor’s directive.
With the County adamant about the colour compliance and threatening legal action against defiant owners, businesses grudgingly come around and began the Mombasa new look transformation, effectively setting Mombasa on its way to becoming the most photographed city in Africa.
A spot-check of the CBD reveals an already-changing aesthetic which like a jigsaw puzzle is slowly coming together to form the background of what would be the next most photographed city in Africa.
“This allows tourists to take photos. We want to be the most photographed city in Africa. After a month we will have 100 per cent compliance,” Mr. Balala added.
Buildings along Jomo Kenyatta Avenue that looked dilapidated a few days ago and were an eyesore now look brand new thanks to Joho’s directive.
The famous Mombasa tusks have not been spared either and have been given a fresh coat of white paint.
And that’s not all; the painting is going hand-in-hand with the rehabilitation of footpaths by the County.
Contractors are busy repairing old pavements and replacing them with red bricks.
"We have chosen red bricks so as to differentiate the motorised and non-motorised ways. We have started with the CBD first but in the next five years we will cover the entire county,” Mr Balala said of the decision.
Meanwhile, the County wants to turn the Kibarani dumpsite, the largest dumpsite in Mombasa that is an eyesore for both tourists and residents located along Mombasa-Nairobi highway, into an recreational park for local residents and tourists.
“After the clean-up is done we will create something unique that you have never seen,” Mr Joho said of the move to beautify the site with trees.
Filthy smells from the dumpsite and heaps of garbage dotting several parts of the city had threatened to ruin the image of Kenya's main tourist hub and Governor Joho had continued to receive criticism over the smelly eyesore.
Tourism stakeholders had argued countless times that the runaway garbage was badly hurting their businesses and risked keeping International visitors at bay.
For a County whose main economic mainstay is tourism, it didn’t need a calculator to realize what a smelly quagmire it was in.
Growing calls for change from residents and hoteliers finally forced county authorities into action, with Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho ordering closure of the dumpsite by end of June.
It is not lost however that the transformation of Mombasa CBD, comes just months before a major international tourism conference scheduled for October takes place, but that is a non-issue keeping in mind that a lot of changes being done right now are going to last way after the last international delegate leaves the coastal City of Mombasa.
In all these, what really stands out is just how the decision is arguably a stroke of genius: the city is getting an instant facelift without the Governor spending a cent and the County incurring any cost.
Building owners have to paint premises out of their own pocket, perhaps some Kenyan Counties who are thinking of charging Sh100 ($1) for a selfie need to board the next Madaraka Express to Mombasa and seek some much-needed tips from the flashy governor, of course as they sip cold mango juice while soaking on the endless blue Indian Ocean sight by the seventh best beach in Africa .
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