Lamu jetties risk closure due to poor state

Photo of a section of the Lamu customs jetty closed off in March after it collapsed. The government is yet to commence rehabilitation of the Lamu jetties PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Six major entry jetties in Lamu county risk closure due to poor maintenance and rehabilitation.

The six are the main Mokowe customs jetty, Manda airport jetty and Lamu island customs jetty in Lamu West.

There is also the Mtangawanda, Kizuke and Jetty ya Ngo’ombe jetties in Lamu East.

Maintenance of the jetties is the mandate of the Ministry of Transport and Public Works.

The six are currently in their worst state after the metals which were used for their construction corroded with rust and collapsed leaving travelers with the now unsafe unsteady stamps.

Travelers coming in and out Lamu island and the other islands are literally putting their lives at risk each time they use the now dysfunctional jetties.

The jetties are the only entry and exit points into and out of Lamu town and other adjacent islands.

Last week, boat operators in Lamu town had to forcefully shut down a section of the Lamu customs jetty after it collapsed and remained unattended to hence posing a danger to users.

Mohamed Shee, the chairperson of the Lamu Coxswains Association said boat operators now scramble for the remaining single lane in order to dock while many others are forced to dock on the seashores, an extremely dangerous affair.

He said the situation is similar for travelers and boat operators using the Mokowe mainland jetty and those lying Kizingitini, Siyu, Manda and other islands.

The situation at the Manda Jetty is especially dire since the jetty is the only connection for travelers and tourists coming into Lamu by air as they have to go through the Manda jetty which is now in a dangerous and shameful state.

“The government has completely abandoned our jetties here in Lamu. More than six jetties are in dilapidated state. The government can’t even renovate the Manda Airport Jetty which gives a bad image of Lamu since it is mostly used by international tourists landing at the Manda Airport. Locals and tourists’ lives are endangered on a daily.Such things affect the tourism sector,” said Shee.

The government has equally been criticized for using a cheap and easily corrodible material in constructing the jetties when in fact such amenities require tougher and costly materials.

Commenting on the matter, Lamu deputy governor Abdulhakim Aboud termed the situation as dire and said the county’s transport system was currently on the weighing scale following the collapse of the jetties.

He said the county had done its part by surveying the situation and submitting a fully detailed report on the situation to the Ministry of Transport.

He also warned visitors coming into Lamu against using collapsed jetties and also exercise caution when using the available ones as they are in bad state.

“We have done a survey of all the six jetties connecting Lamu to the other Islands and the mainland. We have seen that our jetties are in terrible state. We have already handed over our report to the relevant office for action,” said Aboud.

When contacted, Chief Structural Engineer in the State Department of Public Works, Hillary Nyaanga said he was aware of the situation but added that a team will soon be sent to assess the situation and submit a report for budgeting.

“Once the budget is approved, engineers will be sent to Lamu to reconstruct and rehabilitate the jetties. We need time,” said Nyaanga.