Families whose land was obtained for the Lamu Port and South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) project might have to wait longer to be compensated, after lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu directed fresh identification and verification of the families.
Ngilu who toured the site of the project, revoked the existing list of beneficiaries, saying it was shrouded in controversy, and instead ordered that a fresh probe be done to identify the real land owners, who she said shall then be compensated.
The Kenya Ports Authority, mandated with overseeing the LAPSSET project, has said before that funds to compensate the families were available, and that is was awaiting the National Lands Commission to complete identification and verification of bonafide beneficiaries, in order to release the funds.
Families claiming to have surrendered their land for the project have complained over delayed compensation, saying it had rendered them unable to move on with life.
Ngilu directed ministry of lands surveyors who are already in Lamu to help identify the rightful owners and generate a genuine report before compensation was authorized and effected.
Sources indicated to Baraka FM that there were three conflicting lists of beneficiaries, one compiled by the Lamu governor’s office, and others by the lands ministry and consultants hired by the Kenya Ports Authority.
Controversy over the ownership of the land is hinted to be among the reasons behind the recent bloodletting in Lamu and Tana River, which left over 90 people dead and property worth millions destroyed.
KPA said the national government had set aside kshs.1 billion for compensating families on whose land the kshs.2 trillion LAPSSET project is set to stand, an amount which was in the authority’s custody awaiting the finalizing of identifying those to be paid.
The identification process has been marred with suspicion as locals accuse parties involved in the exercise of foul play, saying they listed non bonafide individuals as beneficiaries of the compensation.
LAPSSET chairperson Francis Muthaura visited the area recently and promised to have the families compensated before the end of last month, at the rate of kshs.1.5 million per acre.
The controversy has also seen the project’s steering committee chairperson Abdalla Fadhil threatening to resign saying there was little he was doing other than being used like a puppet, despite the committee’s previous effort to convince locals to surrender their land for the project.