All eyes on KPA as fishers await Sh1.7 billion payout

Lamu Port

Mv Banyas 1 Lome Vessel which docked at the Port of Lamu Berth Number 1 in this photo taken on October 15, 2022. 

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

All eyes will be on the Kenya Ports Authority as the State prepares to shell out billions of shillings to fishermen affected by the construction of Lamu Port.

With the stakes so high, various people with vested interests will be keenly watching to see how the Sh1.76 billion will be shared out among the 4,734 fishermen who are to be compensated for lost fishing grounds.

Preparations for the payouts to begin in 45 days starting on Wednesday with the training of clerks who will collect, verify and validate signatures and bank accounts of the fishermen.

In May 2018, the Malindi High Court awarded the amount after locals successfully proved that they would no longer be able to carry on with their venture due to dredging activities.

They said their livelihoods would suffer and they deserved compensation to enable them to pursue alternative livelihoods. The Lamu county leadership had called for fresh verification of beneficiaries, saying, fake claimants might end up receiving the cash at the expense of genuine fishermen.

“Let the names be stuck on noticeboards for the public to see before the cash is released. We shall conduct our independent verification of the genuine fishermen as a county. We shall also invite the EACC [Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission] to investigate the issue,” Governor Issa Timamy said last year. But KPA insists its list is validated.

“It is your responsibility to always ensure that you have the validated list of the fishermen and the agreements for the area you have been allocated,” KPA Principal Legal Officer Stephen Kyandih told trainee clerks on Wednesday.

Append signatures

He said deliberate efforts would be made to ensure each individual fisherman is physically reached to append their signature on the agreement.

“In cases where the beneficiary is indisposed and is unable to physically come to the designated venue to sign the agreement, the appointed officials and clerks will make arrangements to reach the person physically for the signature,” said Mr Kyandih.

Beach Management Unit chair Mohamed Somo and Save Lamu chair Mohamed Athman vowed to ensure that the compensation process is successfully concluded.

“We have waited for the cash for years. We now feel a new dawn has come. We will cooperate with KPA and other stakeholders to make sure that the compensation is effected for all the affected fishermen,” said Mr Somo.

As per the agreement between the KPA and locals, the fishermen will receive 65 per cent direct cash compensation with the remaining 35 per cent set aside for the development of the fisheries sector.

The compensation exercise is pursuant to a court order issued in Nairobi on civil appeal no.230 of 2018 on December 5, 2022.

During his campaigns in the region last year, President William Ruto had vowed to ensure the fishermen get their dues.