Boni community calls for compensation over LAPSSET

Displaced Boni residents at a previous function. PHOTO/FILE

Lamu,KENYA:The Boni minority community of Lamu county want the government to compensate them for effects caused by the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor project-LAPSSET on the community.

The Boni,a forest community, argue that the LAPSSET passes through their lands and as such there is need for the community to ne handsomely compensated on the same.

They occupy Basuba ward that consists of Milimani,Mangai,Mararani,Kiangwe and Basuba itself.

Speaking on Wednesday when they met in Bargoni area,the community’s council of elders said all the LAPSSET components including roads,railway lines and pipelines will all go through their lands and as such the community will be adversely affected by the project.

Senior Elder Ali Gubo said it was unfair that the government only compensated those whose lands were acquired for the LAPSSET in Kililana and Mashunduani while they continue to be ignored.

In 2015,the government spent more than Sh.1.3 Billion as compensation for over 100 individuals whose lands had been acquired for the port.

“Its only fair that as a community,we get compensated.The LAPSSET will disrupt our lives more than any other party in this county.Some of us could lose our homes to pave way for the roads,pipelines and railway lines in the port.We still cant understand why the government isn’t talking of compensating us,”said Gubo.

Another elder Doza Diza revealed that the government had indicated that they would only compemsate Bonis for trees that will be felled to allow for the establishment of railroads,pipelines and roads in the LAPSSET.

Doza said the community would not allow such kind of belittling treatment from the government.

“The Boni forest and the lands where all these components will pass belong to the Bonis.It has taken us decades to conserve the Boni forest and therefore telling us that we shall only be compensated for trees is an insult.They know our lands shall be taken away and they must pay us for that.We demand compensation for lands,trees and any other thing belonging to the Bonis that shall be caught up in the mix,”said Diza.

He says the community is also disappointed since the government has not put in place a comprehensive and coherent strategy towards ensuring that the Aweer community and other indigenous groups are not deprived of their integrity as a people.

Diza says there is scant political will towards ensuring that communal land is secured, with most lands in Milimani,Basuba,Mangai,Bargoni and Basuba still unregistered hence denying them legal adequate protection for the land.

The construction of the LAPSSET has put considerable pressure on land ownership and use, with speculators acquiring land, some through illegal, coercive or irregular means at the expense of this community.

“People continue to lose their parcels of land under dubious circumstances or undue intimidation by government officials and private developers. I have seen cases where one is just told they are on government land and they should move and without asking questions too failure to which one is forcefully evicted,”added Diza.

The elders criticized the government and the LAPSSET board for consistently segregating and marginalizing them when decisions on the port are made despite the fact that they shall be adversely affected by the project.

“in the political sphere,we are regarded by politicians as insignificant owing to our small numbers.Consequently,our aspirations are not prioritized within the local political context. On its part, the lack of a responsive government policy in many respects has led to the continued violation of our community,”adds Diza.