The Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security Friday evening conducted an inspection tour of State House Mombasa to ascertain the status of the building which was built in 1897.
During the visit which was conducted on the sidelines of the Committee’s retreat with agencies under the purview of the Executive Office of the President, the Committee pledged to support the ongoing restoration efforts so as to safeguard the all-important historical building.
The Committee which was received by the Director of Hospitality at State House Mombasa Mr. Julius Chumo was taken through the history of the building and the challenges the staff managing the estate have experienced while trying to renovate the House whose building technology is not compatible with the current trends in building and construction.
The Members were also told of the high cost of maintaining the building which is built right at the ocean front, due to corrosion. Mr. Chumo explained that there are plans to build a sea wall such as the case with Fort Jesus which is just a short distance from State House. He noted that this would help save the building which has hosted over 20 heads of states in the last 10 years, and which according to records is the most favourite Presidential residence in the country.
“Mr. Chairman, this building was build in 1897 and then a new wing was established almost 30 years later. We have had a few challenges trying to renovate it because the technology used then, is not in tandem with the current building trends, making the process delicate and ultimately, expensive. We need to do a sea-wall to help prevent the building from adverse effects of corrosion and strong wind”, Mr. Chumo stated.
On his part, the State House Comptroller Hon. Katoo Ole Metito informed the Committee that the State was in the process of acquiring the architectural designs of the building which was built by the colonial government, and which have been traced in a British Museum. He noted that the designs would be crucial for the comprehensive renovation of the House.
Cognizant that the State facility is not only the official residence of the President but also a historical relic, the legislators led by the Chairperson Hon. Gabriel Tongoyo pledged to support the allocation of funds towards this cause as a matter of priority. The lawmakers told the team from the Office of the President that they were keen to have all State Houses and Losges acquire the state of the art stature.
“Thank you Comptroller for inviting us to see firsthand the state of this building. As a Committee, we would recommend a comprehensive restoration rather than renovation. This is the practice elsewhere especially for such historical icons”, observed Vice Chair, Hon. Dido Rasso.
The lawmakers who also visited the official residence of the Deputy President which is also under renovation noted the need to improve the amenities for staff living within the quarters.
The Committee undertook to support the plans to establish a permanent water supply solution at the estate,whose three boreholes produce salty water and whose treatment through reverse osmosis had proven to be very expensive.
“We are happy that on the sidelines of our engagements, we found time to carry out this inspection visit. We have seen first the status of the residences, so when you present your budgetary estimates for the proposed restoration works, we shall consider them from an informative point of view”, said Hon. Tongoyo.
The Committee which oversights the Executive Office of the President, is also set to conduct such inspection visits in the other Presidential residences across the country.
Besides State House Mombasa, the other State Houses are in Nairobi and Nakuru. There are also State Lodges in Eldoret, Sagana, Kisumu, Kakamega,Kitale, Rumuruti, Cheran’gany and Kisii.
Members present include:Vice Chair, Hon. Dido Rasso (Saku), Hon. Fred Kapondi (Mt.Elgon), Hon. Mburu Kahangara (Lari) Hon. Sarah Korere (Laikipia North), Hon. Peter Kaluma (Homabay), Hon. Oku Kaunya (Teso North), Francis Sigei (Sotik) and Hon. Protus Akujah (Loima).