Lamu, KENYA: Over 6000 fishermen who benefited from a programmed that loaned them equipment in the last county government regime have been pardoned and will no longer have to pay up the loans.
Lamu governor Fahim Twaha said all those fishermen who owed the county government money for the loans amounting to millions have been pardoned.
Twaha spoke in Lamu town on Sunday as he prepared for his first day in office on Monday.
The equipment loaned included boat engines,fishing gear and cold storage facilities and were purchased and loaned to the fishermen by Twaha’s predecessor Issa Timamy at a certain fee which many were yet to clear payment of.
The equipment had been loaned to individual fishermen and groups too to help them ply their trade on the deep seas.
They were to pay up slowly for a particular duration which had not ended by the time the new governor was being sworn into office.
Twaha said it was wrong for the county government to have loaned the equipment instead of giving them to the fishermen for free.
He said such help was a mandate of the county government to its people and that as such people shouldn’t pay for such.
“How do you make someone pay for something that already belongs to them.The county government is supposed to help and not loan and as such as fishermen who owed the county government in equipment loans are hereby exempted with immediate effect,” said Twaha.
He said his administration will not pursue any fisherman for the money and will instead seek to reinforce their functions even more.
“We will not pursue anyone.Use those equipment to better your lives.We shall as the county government do more to make your work more easier and productive.You are the landlords,you pay the taxes and its only fair that you don’t pay for such,” he said.
Touching on the issue of maritime safety both for the fishermen and all other sea users,Twaha said his administration will purchase and have all boats operating on the Lamu seas fitted with radio call devices to enable them call for help during emergencies.
Twaha expressed concern with the increased maritime accidents that have left several dead in the past few months and said his administration will seek out mitigations and infrastructure that will promote maritime safety and enable for prompt rescue whenever sea accidents and other emergencies occur.
He said his office had already initiated talks with the Kenya Maritime Authority-KMA office in Lamu to increase maritime patrols in a bid to boost safety at sea.
“In June we lost 10 people from an accident at sea,this month our colleague lost an entire family at sea and that’s very unfortunate.Thats why my administration will start by having all boats fitted with radio calls so that its easy for them to call in for help when need be.We are also talking with KMA on the need for increased patrols at sea,possibly 24/7,”said Twaha.
The announcement sends some relief to residents and other players who have been calling on the county and national governments to come up with proper measures to save lives whenever boat accidents occur.