‘You’re blocking my beachfront’: Hotelier sues Homa Bay County over fish factory


Fishermen in Homa Bay County

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A hotelier has taken the Homa Bay County government to court over the construction of a fish factory that has allegedly encroached on his land, blocking the hotel's view and access to Lake Victoria.

The Homa Bay Tourist Hotel says the construction of the fish factory at Kanyada is a manifestation of poor planning as it has the potential to increase the vulnerability of the lakeshore zone and destroy the habitat.

The case is filed at the Environment and Land Court.

In its suit, the hotelier says the excavation and construction of the fish factory by the county administration, right on the shoreline, could end up disrupting the natural sedimentation cycle of the shoreline.

“I can authoritatively state that the 1st defendant's (county government) construction of a fish market on the plaintiff’s lakefront parcel has the net effect of tampering with the pristine nature of the lake shore and altering the beach.

"This is not just in terms of the form but also as a result of potential discharges with the high likelihood that the resultant sanitary situation in the fish market may be a threat to the public health and the surrounding environment,” Mr Maxwel Otieno Odongo, managing director of the hotel, said in an affidavit filed in court.

Mr Otieno said the construction of the fish factory has the potential to destroy the hotel business yet he has plans of developing it into a first-class multi-million-holiday resort.

The hotelier said he has sought funding of Sh3 billion to construct a 350-room hotel, intended to give the residents a view of the beautiful scenery of Lake Victoria and the beach from their rooms.

Justice GMA Ong’ondo certified the case as urgent and directed lawyer Kenneth Amondi to serve the court papers upon the Homa Bay County government, Attorney General Justin Muturi and PS Lands and Physical Planning.

The judge directed the case to be mentioned on April 10 for directions.

Mr Amondi submitted that it was strange for the county government, which is under a duty to craft policies that will develop Lake Victoria waterfront as a way of boosting tourism and investment in Western Kenya Circuit, was instead opting to block the same by creating an incongruent atmosphere for the operations of the hotel.

He said Homabay Tourist Hotel is a major player in Western Kenya Tourism in collaboration with the national government to ensure that the Lake Victoria waterfront in Homa Bay is developed, packaged and marketed in a bid to boost tourism within the circuit.

He said the hotel is the owner of the parcel known as Kanyada/Kotieno/Katuma b-371 measuring 7.81 hectares (inclusive of the riparian land) but the county government has compromised the hotel’s proprietary and littoral rights by not just fencing and converting close to half of its property into a construction site and establishing a fish factory in part of it.

He further said the government has created a title of the riparian land without the hotel's consent and in the process blocking its access, use or view of Lake Victoria.

“The objective of the hotel is to offer an idyllic tropical paradise with beachfront rooms that would grant guests stunning views of turquoise waters and pristine white sand beaches replete with a range of activities, including sunset cruises that would allow guests to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings,” Mr Otieno said in an affidavit.