For the past 10 years, the main six roundabouts in Mombasa City had been turned into illegal dumpsites.
With a lack of designated dumpsites, the residents resorted to the roundabouts to dump their waste.
But when a private stakeholder took over the regeneration of the roundabouts recently, the spots have been turned into tourists attraction centres with beautiful sceneries including sculptures of wild animals.
The Makupa, Lebanon, Digo Road, Nyerere, Port and Ganjoni roundabouts are now a sight to behold, with different sculptures to signify the country’s heritage and identity.
However, to maintain its status, the investor has employed more than 20 youths to guard the roundabouts, which will officially be commissioned before Christmas.
“Mombasa Cement Limited Company took over the beatification of the main roundabouts to restore the county’s image. We want the tourism city to be beautiful and not garbage sites,” said Mr Imtiaz Sayani who is in charge of the Roundabouts projects at the company.
Mr Sayani said his boss, Mr Hasu Patel, who is the owner of Mombasa Cement Limited, took over the project after the roundabouts turned into an eyesore to tourists and residents after years of neglect.
At the Mombasa Port roundabout, the company has erected a boat to signify the identity of the coastal people’s economic mainstay, fishing.
“At different roundabouts, we erect different sculptures. For instance, an elephant signifies Kenya’s wildlife. We use an elephant in bigger roundabouts. Other roundabouts have crocodiles, buffalos, sharks, camels and lions,” he added.
The project has also revived job opportunities for many youths.
“We have employed people whose work is to clean the roundabouts and we have watchmen who guard the solar panels that power the roundabouts,” he said.
The firm sources stain stones from Voi and buys desert roses from florists in Mombasa, which are later planted on the central island of the roundabouts.
"Mombasa is looking good thanks to the beautiful wildlife sculptures and flowers in the roundabouts. But I wish we could plant more trees also," said Ms Jecinta Kathambi, a resident.
The firm has employed an artist who does the sculptures in Nairobi before they are ferried to Mombasa for beautification.
One elephant sculpture costs Sh500,000.
Mr Patel is also the man behind the beautification of Kibarani from a dumpsite into a recreational park. In 2019, the billionaire took President Uhuru Kenyatta to inspect the project.
The beautification project involved the decommissioning and rehabilitation of the former dumpsite into a public park.
The President said he was impressed by the transformation and encouraged the county government to improve other public spaces across the city.
“Today, tourists throng Mombasa roundabouts to take pictures because of the transformation. Mombasa must be clean," said Mr Sayani.
The company has used Sh1 million to install solar power panels to light the roundabouts.
The city has been grappling with the garbage crisis following the closure of Kibarani, the oldest dumpsite in the county.
Despite the county imposing stringent measures and strategies to deal with illegal dumping including a Sh1 million fine depending on the quantity of the waste dumped, waste is still choking the tourism city.
Last year, Governor Hassan Joho contemplated privatising garbage collection in the city.
He also accused rich individuals of being behind the garbage menace, thereby besieging the tourism hub.
Tourism stakeholders led by Pollman’s Tours and Safaris Director Mohammed Hersi said the project has spruced up the city.
However, he urged the county to decisively deal with the garbage menace.
"VOK dumpsite is back. Garbage is never generated by the poor. Most of that garbage is from Links Road delivered by the Mikokotenis who cannot go to the Mwakirunge area for dumping.
"To make it worse, there is an illegal dumpsite at a seasonal river path in Mikindani/Miritini. Surely, how can the National Environment and Management Authority allow that? All that rubbish will be washed into the ocean," lamented Mr Hersi.
He urged the Joho led government to deliver on the solid waste management and recycling plant pledge.