Lamu fishermen to receive Sh1.7b compensation next month

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Head of Corporate Affairs Bernard Osero with Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia during the meeting to compile a list of more than 4000 Fishermen set to benefit from the Sh1.76 billion compensation awarded by the court, in a bid to control adverse effects on fishing brought by the construction of the Lamu Port.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group.

As a final list of fishermen affected Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project is being validated for Sh1.76 billion compensation, 1,500 new claimants have emerged demanding to be included among the beneficiaries.

The list of 4,734 fishermen has since bulged to more than 6,000, with the government maintaining it will stick to the list presented to them by court.

County Commissioner, Irungu Macharia said they have given beach management units (BMUs) officials two days to submit the final list.

"We met different stakeholders on Monday and we found discrepancy in the list. We have asked leaders from BMUs to submit names by Wednesday," said Mr Irungu.

He added, "They will  finally receive their compensation in May this year."

In May, 2018, the Malindi High Court awarded a compensation package of Sh 1.76 billion to the Lamu fishermen displaced by the new port at Kililana following a successful petition.

The more than 4, 000 fishermen had sought legal redress, arguing that they would no longer be able to carry on with their venture due to the dredging activities at the Lapsset.

They said their livelihoods would eternally suffer and as such deserved compensation to enable them pursue alternative livelihoods.

Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha welcomed the move by the national government to pay the Lapsset fishermen saying it was on time.

Mr Twaha said the devolved unit was rooting for the port’s opening to harness the economic benefits for the Lamu people.

He expressed confidence that the Lamu Port will unlock the social and economic potential of the region as well as improving people's living standards once operationalized.

Mr Twaha said that can only be achieved if the national government clears any pending Lapsset grievances by the local community first, including the compensation of the affected fishermen.

“Lamu County Government has fully been behind the national government's implementation of this project. Having worked together to ensure a smooth implementation, we are glad to finally see its opening,” said Mr Twaha.

Lapsset Regional Manager Salim Bunu said community blessings and ownership of the Lamu Port project was essential.

“What delayed the fishermen compensation is the list. But we have facilitated the whole process. It’s now up to the fishermen and the county government that will help us come up with the final list to be verified and approved before compensation begins in May,” said Mr Bunu.

KPA Head of Corporate Affairs Bernard Osero said the move by the government to compensate the Lapsset project affected fishermen will enable a smooth start of the Lamu Port operationalization in June.

“We want to enjoy the continued goodwill and support from the local community once the Lamu Port fully becomes operational,” said Mr Osero.

Lamu Fishermen Beach Management Unit (BMU) Network Chairman Mohamed Somo said he was glad that the government had finally realized its promise to compensate them.

Mr Somo urged fellow fishermen that will benefit from the Lapsset compensation package to plan first before using the money.

“We are glad that money is finally here. I want to thank the national government for the effort and for a promise kept. I urge all beneficiaries to plan first and put the monies to good use once received,” said Mr Somo.

Save Lamu Organization chairman Mohamed Athman who was among the petitioners to have Lapsset grievances looked into termed the announcement to have the over 4000 fishermen compensated as a new dawn.

Mr Athman called on the government to ensure all the remaining Lapsset grievances by the local community and any other hitches are quickly addressed before the port begins operation in June.

Apart from fishermen compensation, the local community has also been agitating for local youth to be given first priority in terms of employment at the Lamu Port.

“We want the batch of 1000 local youth that the government through former President Mwai Kibaki promised to sponsor to undertake courses related to Lapsset finalized. Only 400 youth have so far been sponsored,” said Mr Athman.

Lamu Community Forum representative Maryam Abubakar sought assurance that at least 25 percent of the direct and indirect proceeds from the Lamu Port once it commences operations to remain in Lamu so that both the county and community can benefit just like it was done in Turkana County.

“Out of the 25 percent we’re agitating for, we want 20 percent to go towards undertaking development in the county while the remaining 5 percent to be channeled to the Lamu Community Trust Fund,” said Ms Abubakar.

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