By Philip Mwakio
Italian billionaire, Flavio Briatore is keen on enticing high-end foreign investors to set up base in the touristic town of Malindi, Kilifi County. But the mega-billionaire insists that for this to happen, the national and county governments must fix infrastructure upgrades including expansion of the Malindi airport into an international facility.
Briatore who owns the luxurious billionaires resort and the exclusive Lion in the Sun Resort in the resort town said he is happy with the ongoing developments including the tarmacking of roads done by the Kilifi county government which is showing a new face.
He lauded the private sector initiatives in sprucing up Malindi through the bi-monthly cleanups initiated by the Malindi Progressive Welfare Association terming it as a brilliant move to ensure the environment is kept clean in the tourist resort town.
The billionaire who is on a six-day working holiday spoke today at the Billionaires resort after meeting with the officials of the cleanup and promised to link them with foreign experts who will help address the problem of garbage. He said the experts would come to train locals on how to make use of the garbage that is seen as a menace to make useful products and create job opportunities.
''I have always shown deep reservations over a messy Malindi with bad roads, potholes everywhere, garbage mounds during my previous visits. But for the first time in many years a movement has come up with a vision of making the town into a Green and Blue city, at least somebody is doing something am encourage to see Malindi better,'' he said.
So far the face of Malindi has changed and the exercise is attracting in more stakeholders following the success that is bringing back the town's lost glory.
Briatore commended the Malindi Progressive Welfare Association led by Kate Mwikali which consists of less than 60 people for a good job of cleaning garbage. He said for tourists to come the town has to be clean and free of wastes adding that investors would start flocking in Watamu and Malindi once construction of the airport is completed. He announced plans to put up a tourist hotel once the airport is fixed.
Mwikali who was present during the press conference said their aim is to implement a circular economy, environmental hub, an education centre in Malindi. She said their aim of monthly clean up is geared at tapping in the blue economy which is one of the Big Four Agendas of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
''We want the Malindi airport to be ready by next year so that the economy improves,'' she said.
Sabina Vivaldi a member of the association said their motto is 'our town our responsibility' and want locals to respect where they live by keeping the environment clean. She said their vision is to make people understand that it's their duty to make the town clean instead of waiting for somebody else to do it for them. She also asked the government to complete the expansion which has lasted over two decades as it was important for Malindi.
''If Malindi airport is completed it will attract tourists from many destinations,'' she said.
This is the first time in many years the billionaire who constantly visits the resort town felt happy with the developments going on. The county government is currently tarmacking the Malindi beach road up to the marine park a section of which is already tarmacked. At the same time, the county in partnership with the national government is setting up the beachfront project.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has pledged to ensure that investors have a promised to establish a conducive environment for investors and committed himself to develop the infrastructure.