A refurbished Mama Ngina Drive Park will be opened to the public from October 2019 after the successful implementation of the Mombasa County government's plans in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism to give a new facelift to the iconic facility. Senior national government officials in July after touring the project, had hinted that this year's Mashujaa (Heroes) Day celebrations, marked on 20th October, could be held in the new park. According to the Mombasa County Commissioner, Evans Achoki, the recreational park has been transformed into a world-class facility under an initiative dubbed “Mombasa Waterfront Project” at a cost of Ksh460 million. The new park is an integrated urban destination for culture, festivals, shopping, dining and relaxation.
Mama Ngina Drive Park which is located on the southern part of Mombasa city, overlooking the Likoni Ferry terminus, has been a major attraction to residents, foreign and local tourists who visit the park for recreation. It is a great place to unwind and just relax in cool sea-breeze temperatures away from the Mombasa Island heat. The park provides a panoramic scenic view of the Indian Ocean allowing one to watch ships sailing in and out of Mombasa Port and docking at Kilindini Harbour. One can as well go down the cliff to explore the sea during the low tide. The park which is located on a 26-acre land, also holds a rich cultural and historical heritage of Mombasa. It is reported that the park was a battlefield in the incessant Arab-Portuguese wars to control Mombasa town during medieval years.
The National Museums of Kenya has been assigned a duty by the government to safeguard this national heritage under the Museums Act and Antiquities and Monument Act. After the park was gazzetted in 2004 as a historical monument, the value of this public park cannot therefore be underestimated as it provides an important understanding about the development of coastal Kenya and archaeological sites. The project to improve the facility was therefore envisaged to promote the city's historical background and culture.
Kenya's Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, avers that the transformation of Mama Ngina Drive into a modern public facility is part of ongoing efforts to restore the glory of Mombasa as a leading tourist destination. “This important park apart from its historical and cultural aspect, has to be given a facelift to attain international standards as thousands of holiday makers including Kenyans and foreign visitors go to Mama Ngina for picnic, to enjoy the scenic beauty of the sea and whiling away time to cool off from life challenges as they watch the ships sail”, Balala said in a media statement.
Balala said a private company will be brought on board to manage the Waterfront Park when it is eventually opened. “We intend to enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to ensure that the park is maintained at high standards as it is a world-class facility”, he said. The regeneration of the new park was commissioned by Kenya's President, Uhuru Kenyatta in January this year and again inspected the reconstruction project in July accompanied by Mombasa County Governor, Hassan Joho. The ICT ministry plans to install high-speed internet in the park to enhance communication and security surveillance. CCTV cameras will be installed to monitor movements and activities to enhance security of visitors and business property within the park.
The Mombasa County government through its Tourism Chief Officer, Innocent Mugabe, has assured more than 300 businessmen who had been relocated to pave way for the refurbishment, that they will be allowed back to operate in the new premises when the park reopens. Visitors will have an opportunity to sample the Swahili heritage and culture including food and snacks when they tour the park and visit the Kilindini Cultural Centre within the park. There will also be dry massage offered by mobile masseurs, pedicurists, manicurists as visitors watch the ships and relax in the park. Families also go to congregate at the exotic spot to relax and picnic. The park offers an opportunity for visitors to see natural flora and fauna which includes the endangered baobab trees, some as old as 400 years and the rare grey heron birds.