The Boni community has lauded the move to establish a Kenya Navy Base at Magogoni within Manda Bay in Lamu County.
The base is within the Boni Forest where Operation Amani Boni, aimed at flushing out Al-Shabaab militants believed to be hiding within the dense forest, has been ongoing since 2015.
On Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta presented Presidential and regimental colours to the Manda base, the second after the Mtongwe base in Mombasa County.
The presidential colour is the greatest honour bestowed upon a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation during peace and war time, while the regimental colour is a flag bearing the symbol associated with the unit for identification.
President Kenyatta termed the establishment of the Kenya Navy Base, Manda, as of utmost significance in enhancing the country’s counter terrorism efforts, maritime security and guarding vital trade routes.
President Kenyatta called upon the Lamu community and the leadership to collaborate with the security agencies in ensuring peace and stability.
“The Lamu Port (Lapsset) project and roads improvement from Hindi through to Bar’goni, Bodhei, Baure and Kiunga are currently ongoing. We are also steadfastly committed to making the Boni area a peaceful and stable economic hub. Such infrastructure projects will support the livelihood of thousands of our people within this region,” said President Kenyatta.
Residents of Bar’goni, Baure, Milimani, Magogini and Kwasasi villages vowed their cooperation with the security agencies.
Bar’goni elder Doza Diza lauded the government for upgrading the Manda Naval Base into a fully established military base, ensuring Lamu’s security and stability.
“We are happy as a community. The President asked us to cooperate with the security agencies here. I want to assure him that we will continue supporting the government in all endeavors here as has been our norm. Our appeal is however for the government to ensure all our grievances, especially matters on project lands and compensation are fully resolved,” said Mr Doza.
Ali Keah, a community leader from Magogoni village said he was happy that Lamu is now peaceful, thanks to the ongoing operation Amani Boni.
“We thank the President for prioritising Lamu in terms of development and crucial security infrastructure upgrade. We will cooperate with our security agencies here,” said Mr Keah.
The Manda base, which has been operating as a Forward Operations Base (FOB), was established in 1992 and officially inaugurated in 1995 to provide logistics support to the Kenya Defense Force (KDF) units stationed in Northern Kenya and Kismayu.
Over the years, the base has grown to include an all-weather airstrip with night landing capability and a 1.3km runway.
The Base has been hosting a US government Forward Operating Location (FOL) since 2004 under operational control of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF - HOA) in Djibouti.