Wildcat strike by sections of Watamu Boat Owners a threat to tourism


(Posted 30th January 2014)

A number of Watamu based hoteliers have opposed blatant threats by a section of members of the Watamu Boat Owners Association, which has been attempting to picket boat trips into the marine national park over their opposition to entrance fee hikes implemented by the Kenya Wildlife Service. This association is NOT to be mistaken with the Watamu Marine Association, which has reportedly disassociated itself from the ‘radicals’ attempting to disturb the peace.

Some reports received in fact talk of outright threats against hotel boats still operating and taking their own guests out into the marine park, some threats reportedly with nasty racial undertones, while at least one report received yesterday talks of threats of burning boats still operating and not following the wildcat strike and even threats against the lives of tourists daring to venture out to sea.

There was one further unconfirmed report that a diving boat was taken away by some of the strikers, leaving divers stranded until a relief boat came to the scene while a foreign tourist in the boat was taken away against her will though later released.

Only yesterday was an alleged informer against radical elements in the greater Malindi area assassinated just a hundred metres from the Malindi police station, a sign that radicalism has started to spread into this hitherto peaceful resort town, and the wild cat strike, according to one source who demanded strict anonymity, was perhaps a sign that radicals have started to undermine and infiltrate with the aim to disrupt and damage the vital tourism industry.

Exposing such bad practice is one way to get the authorities take our complaints more seriously. KWS and regular police need to be visible and present at all times to deter such incidents and deal with those lawless elements who threaten other businesses’ after the dispute was still ongoing over at least the last week. Watch this space for further updates, as and when available.

2 Responses

  1. The strike should not be mixed up with issues of radicalism. After all, the hike in entrance fees is a genuine grievance among the boat operators, in addition to other fees that may have been imposed by the local county government. I agree that attacking and abducting tourists is not the way for the boat owners to voice their grievances either.

    1. Sadly there are indications that some level of subversion may have taken place, which if eventually found correct would of course have to raise the alarm bells as this is the soft underbelly through which such mischief can be perpetrated. If it were purely about the KWS fee structure, there are established platforms to raise such matters without resorting to threats and violence, the latter a sign that some elements clearly spoiled for such an opportunity to assert influence and create an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
      Thanks for reading my blog.

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