Kilifi leaders back construction of Africa’s tallest building in Watamu

An architects illustration of Palm Exotica that is set to be Africa's tallest building when complete PHOTO COURTESY

Leaders from Watamu area in Kilifi North Sub County, Kilifi County have vowed to ensure that the proposed construction of a Sh. 28 billion, 61 storey building, christened Palm Exotica goes on as planned.

Their calls comes days after Tourism cabinet secretary Najib Balala opposed the planned construction saying that it was too close to the the Watamu beach.

Led by Kilifi North MP Owen Baya, the leaders scoffed at Balala terming him a liability to the people of Kilifi County for opposing the project that will create thousands of job opportunities to area residents.

The building is poised to be 370 meters tall and will be the tallest in the region if plans to construct it go on.

Balala opposed it saying that I was too near the Watamu beach and went ahead to write to the National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) to revoke its approval.

“That 61-storey skyscraper developed on a small plot in Watamu must not be built. I have already given my objection to NEMA. If they want to build such a skyscraper, they should do it in Nairobi or Mombasa, not on the beach of Watamu,” said Balala a few days ago.

“It is absurd to see a CS who is supposed to ensure there is tourism boom in Watamu which in term creates jobs to youths opposing such a project,” said Baya.

Baya told off the CS against involving himself  saying he will not stop to defend issues meant to benefit the public in his constituency.

“We shall not allow to be dictated by other people on matters belonging to projects meant to benefit the public and Balala has no authority to speak on behalf of the people of Watamu,” he said.

Dabaso ward MCA Emmanuel Changawa said he will mobilize locals against Balala.

The structure designed by Rome-based architect Lorenzo Pagnini and developed by a consortium of investors from New York , USA, South Africa and Italian billionaire Franco Rosso will house luxury suites and a 24-hour casino.

The building will also be home to a 270-bed hotel, shopping mall, and a nightclub and will also have 180 serviced apartments, office suites, a conference center, and restaurants.

Owen Baya also opposed the construction of the head quarters of the Kenya Marine fisheries and social economic development project in Nairobi’s South C area arguing that it could have been constructed at any of the five counties at the coast.

He said that he will write to the World bank to stop the project until public participation is done.

In a recent advert on a local daily the ministry of agriculture livestock, fisheries and irrigation had advertised for tenders for the construction of the headquarters where they listed five coastal counties that are considered marine ecosystems as beneficiaries.

“My wonder is that if the project is specifically for the counties of Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale why are they constructing the headquarters in Nairobi and how will it benefit the local fishermen?” he quipped.