Kakamega County opposes sale of Golf Hotel

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa while appearing before the Senate Committee on Finance and Budget. Kakamega County government has rejected plans by the government to privatise the Golf Hotel.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kakamega County government has rejected plans by the government to privatise the Golf Hotel, a key facility in the western region tourism circuit.

The hotel has been listed as one of the public entities that will go up for privatisation as the government seeks to raise more funds for its operations.

The privatisation plan is informed by the fact the government should not engage in profit making business but focus on service delivery to its citizens.

The government plans to divest from hotels that are making losses and managed by the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC).

The KTDC has 80 per cent stake in the hotel, while 20 per cent shares belong to the Kakamega Municipal Council.

Other hotels that have been marked for privatisation are Mt Elgon Lodge Ltd, Sunset Hotel in Kisumu, Kabarnet Hotel and the Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels and other KTDC associated companies.

According to the government plan, the resources accrued will be used in modernising the facility.

The planned privatisation is expected to address ownership and management of the hotel by the KTDC.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has rejected the plan, saying the argument that the Golf Hotel was struggling financially and making losses was not true.

He said the county was aware that the hotel was making profits and the rush to privatise it was unacceptable.

“As Kakamega County Government, we are opposed to the sale of Golf Hotel. The government has plans to sell a number of hotels. The objective is because the facilities are loss-making. Golf hotel is partly owned by Kakamega County and we want to oppose plans for the sale of the hotel that is profit making,” said Mr Barasa.

The county boss further said: “We want to go on record on this matter. We want our hotel to remain owned by the Kakamega County government.”

The devolved unit is pushing for a valuation of the hotel to establish the current market value.

He spoke amidst fears that several employees of the hotel were likely to lose their jobs if the privatisation plans is rushed through without considering the impact the move would have on the region’s economy.

The draft Privatization Bill, 2023, has been finalised by the National Treasury and Economic Planning and the Privatisation Commission and the public were invited to submit memoranda in the different regions on the proposals from January 31, 2023 to February 7, 2023.

The Nation has established that the county is position itself to take over the hotel and turn it into a county hotel.

The Rev William Owuya, the chairman of the hospitality stakeholders in Kakamega County, said the hotel provides an opportunity to small industry players in the region to benchmark their operations.

“As a service provider, Golf Hotel sublets whatever business it gets, including accommodation to other smaller facilities. This benefits the entire industry and economy of the region. We feel that the move to privatise the hotel will not be in the best interest of the region,” said the Rev Owuya.

The KTDC has 95.4 percent stake in Sunset Hotel, while Kisumu City owns 4.6 percent, and the privatization plan targets to mordernise and rehabilitate the hotel.

At the Mt Elgon Hotel, the privatization proceeds will play a key role in giving the existing facility a facelift. The government plans to use the financial resources accrued for the process to support the industry through KTDC loans.