February 23, 2024

Leaders and Stakeholders Unite to Condemn Pinewood Attack in Kwale

Kenya Tourism Coast Association (KTCA) chief executive officer (CEO) Julius Owino .addressing the Media over the attack (Photo By Caroline Katana)

By Caroline Katana

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Coast region tourism stakeholders and leaders have condemned the recent attack of Pinewood Beach Resort staffs and guests at Galu in Kwale County.

“We are disheartened to witness such archaic events within hospitality space,” said Kenya Tourism Coast Association (KTCA) chief executive officer (CEO) Julius Owino.

According to him at least 18 hotel staff were left with serious injuries on the attack after unknown goons stormed Pinewood premises in the broad daylight before unleashing terror on staff and guests.

Saying tourism was a fragile and sensitive industry that must be treated with a lot of caution, Owino expressed fears the Pinewood incident may dealt a blow to the expectations for the peak December-February tourist season.

The hotel that had secured almost a full occupation is currently struggling to make ends meet at a time when the tourism business is picking up at the region with some of its staff still nursing physical and psychological wounds.

“We want the government and mostly the cabinet secretaries of interior and tourism to reign in and protect the sanctity and the image of the destination,” Owino urged saying Kenya was governed by the rule of law and every dispute must be solved lawfully.

“We are cognizant of commercial dispute between the pinewood management and other party but we can not allow hooliganism and lawlessness to be away of solving commercial disputes in this industry, this action dent the very destination that we invest heavily to showcase and market.”

From the CCTV footage, the attackers arrived in vehicles loaded with crude weapons. What baffling is that the attackers came by road, but why they were not intercepted leaves a lot to be desired and only means it was a well-coordinated and planned attack.

Assuring all guests of their safety to this tourism destination region, the CEO called on the government to expedite investigations and arrest all those behind the archaic attack of Pinewood Beach Resort.

From their side, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers asked the Kenya Police Service to move with speed in bringing the culprits of the heinous attack to book.

In his statement, the KAHC chairman Chris Musau expressed concern that the incident would portray tourism industry in a bad light internationally that might have far reaching effects in teems of booking for Kenya.

Muchai Pamela, Pinewood Beach Resort manager, said the recent incident at the hotel was not the first attack, but one among three others previously.

“This is the third attack where staffs are attacked in broad day light,” she said adding that it was unfortunate that no legal action has been taken against the suspects.

“We were informed that 13 suspects were detained at Diani police station on Friday but unfortunately released on Sunday in unclear circumstances, we made follow ups in court but we were told that they never stepped in Kwale law court,” Pamela added.

Mohammed Issah Mohammed, who sustained head injuries, said the attackers got him at the hotel canteen where he was preparing food for guests and descended on him with kicks and blows.

“I heard noises all over the premise then four guys came to the canteen and took my belongings, I tried to fight back but one the attackers hit me with a piece of wood and stones on my head and left me unconscious, some of the guests came for my rescue and gave me first aid before taken to Diani hospital for treatment,” he said.

The bread winner of his family, Mohammed said that he could no longer perform his normal duties due to that attack.

“As a result of the attack I can’t do hard duties, I’m doing light jobs so as to earn small cash to boost my family, I have been working in this premise for two years now after the death of my mother who used work in his hotel for years.”

One of the tourists at Pinewood Resort said there was no need for alarm or panic as security had been beefed up for the staffs and tourists.

“I witnessed the incident but everything is now under control, I don’t see the reason of tourists flicking out of this hotel, the experience here is quite good, security is really coordinating with the management and we feel very safe and protected so no reason to believe that we are not safe,” the tourist added.

Led by Irene Kaenda, the Galu residents said the attack had adversely affected their tourists geared businesses.

“Since the attack, our businesses are at risk of collapsing. We don’t get clients any more in our small food restaurants. We really want peace in this area knowing how economy crisis has hit us so if we sell nothing because of wrangles how are we going to survive,” she posed.

Advocate Anangwe Maloba acknowledged there were disputes between the two parties awaiting for resolution at the Court of Appeal.

“We admit there are commercial disputes but the issues are before the court, and the court issued order of protection of the premise as the two parties resolve their dispute in court but unfortunately on 2nd August 2023, KCB management hired goons to forcefully take over pinewood beach resort forcefully and the same goons attacked staffs on 17th November 2023 ,” he said.

The lawyer claimed he had affidavits from five suspects disclosing those behind the attack that must be apprehended and taken to court for the incident.

Msambweni OCPD Francis Gachoki confirmed the incident saying that security had been beefed up in the premise and its environs to ensure there tourists and staff were safe.

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