Buxton project; the weighing scale for Shabaal
By Gilbert Were
Hon. Suleiman Shabaal is someone I have respected for a long time. To me, he is one of those great leaders any organization would love to have. Being a renowned businessman across Africa and the world, he has always had entrepreneurial attributes; identifying and exploiting every single opportunity presented to him.
A few months ago, after Shabaal was interviewed on a morning show at a local radio station, I got a chance to ask him some questions. I was sincerely moved by the amount of sense and brilliance he had. I believe if that interview was done around the time for election campaigns, it would have greatly raised his stock among the electorate.
He emphasized mostly how we can transform our society and in turn create many job opportunities for our people. As a young entrepreneur running a startup media company alongside a capable team, Shabaal’s entrepreneurial savvy I feel could be of great help to our company.
Together with a colleague of mine, we reached out to and had a sit-down with his campaign manager, Major Idris Abdulrahman, and one of his communication experts Alvin Abuya. We had an in-depth conversation with them where some of Shabaal’s greatest achievements, and failures were revealed to us.
We learned that twice at different points in his life, he went bankrupt while he held high positions in multinational companies, but came out on top in the end. That was just some background information which in all honesty left us even more in awe of the businessman’s resilience.
Back to the Buxton housing project. It is widely known that Shabaal won the tender to upgrade the dilapidated estate. In my view two scenarios may play out here; it’s either the project succeeds or fails terribly.
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If the project goes well and is completed within the stipulated timelines, then Shabaal will have proven his abilities in taking up a multi-billion shilling initiative and managing it to a successful end. This, in my opinion, may play a big role in his political ambitions, which I assume are to run for the Mombasa County Governorship come 2022 general elections.
Should the project fail to meet the expectations, which Shabaal estimates that the project shall raise the county revenue to the tune of up to Sh50B, by luring investors to invest in Mombasa, he will have a hard time in convincing Mombasa residents on his ability to be the county CEO.
With the project facing opposition from different quotas, it’s is not yet clear whether the project will kick off or not. Critics of the project claim that there are many questions that haven’t been addressed to date, even after three-day public participation function was organized by Shabaal.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir, Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, former Mombasa County Senator, Hassan Omar, and Kisauni MP Ali Mbogo have all come out and questioned the issuing of the housing project tender to Shabaal’s company.
Nassir claims that there is a conflict of interest in the county awarding the tender to Shabaal. He also doesn’t see how Shabaal, who was opposed to the project a few years back when he did not win the tender, now has a completely different stand on the project, being that he won the tender. As the area MP, Nassir noted that the compensation for the residents of Buxton raises some concern as it is reasonably lower than was previously agreed.
In a recent press statement, Shabaal rebuffed his critics and those opposing the project stating that he is not desperate for the governorship. He claims that the project is one that would help the economy of Mombasa which is already dwindling due to the SGR meddling in Port operations. However, still, some lobby groups and human rights organizations are even planning to move to court to challenge the project.
With all that said and done, this is Shabaal’s first time doing business with the county government. It may have some subliminal undertones to it with respect to 2022, but whichever way you look at it, I believe that it is more of a weighing scale for the businessman as far as being tasked to oversee critical development infrastructure, and making sure the project benefits the county. This project will make or break his quest to be governor.
Perhaps the biggest endorsement for Shabaal is that former rival, and current Governor, Hassan Joho has his back in regards to the project and has vowed to move forward with it even as opponents mount.
Let’s wait and see…