LAPSSET rules out monetary compensation for Lamu fishermen

LAPSSET project manager Peter Oremo speaking to journalists on Wednesday in Lamu PHOTO NATASHA NEEMA

Lamu,KENYA:There will be no monetary compensation for the 4,734 fishermen affected by the Lamu Port-LAPSSET project.

This is according to the project manager Peter Oremo.

Speaking at the Majlis Hotel in Lamu during the official release of a report by the Taskforce on Compensation of Fishermen Affected by the Development of Lamu Port,Oremo said instead the LAPSSET would only compensate the affected fishermen in kind.

On 1 s May this year, the Malindi High Court in a land mark ruling directed the to LAPSSET pay the over 4000 fishermen Sh.1.7 Billion before the end of the year.

The court had found that the government violated the community’s cultural rights and the right to a clean and healthy environment when they started the construction of the port project.

The Sh.2.5 Trillion LAPSSET project is being undertaken at Kililana area in Lamu.

The building and operations of the port has necessitated the cessation of traditional fishing practices in some of the channels heavily relied on by fishermen in the region.

This automatically means that traditional fishing waters will have to be closed off to a significant number of artisanal fisher persons who currently depend on the channel for their livelihood.

Artisanal fishermen will now be forced to abandon their trade on the safer channels and will now have to struggle and cope with the risky demands in the high seas.

The fishermen had earlier argued that the government had not been forthcoming about any plans to cushion the fisher persons of Lamu from the economic and social fall-out that will result from this development.

This recent development will most likely not go down well with the fishermen who were looking forward to monetary compensation just like the court had directed.

Oremo said the authority was in the process of engaging local leaders and the affected fishermen over their decision before the compensation process kicks off before end year.

“Compensation will entail providing the fishers with medium sized fishing vessels equipped with contemporary fishing aid, provision of outboard engines, and provision of intensive training to capacity build fishers in order to enable their transition flawlessly from Coastal water fishing to offshore fishing, “said Oremo.

Fishermen will also be provided with iceboxes, market stalls and refrigerated trucks.

Oremo also said they were also working with the county department of fisheries to identify and develop all fishing landing sites as part of the compensation package.

“The court directed that the LAPSSET pay them sh 1.76 billion. It should however be noted that there will be no monetary compensation. The fishermen will be given comparable compensation. We shall give the fishermen skills and equipment so that they continue with the trade,” said Oremo.

Lamu governor Fahim Twaha asked the LAPSSET to ensure all those affected are compensated in a manner that’s transparent, consultative and expedient to all stakeholders particularly those who surrendered their right of exploiting the resource to pave way for the Lamu Port construction.

“At the end of the day its justice delivered for our fishermen.Let it take place in the most transparent manner , “said Twaha.

However Lamu East MP Athman Shariff asked the LAPSSET authority to stop dictating the terms of compensation and instead issue monetary compensation as that’s what the fishermen want to enable them start new lives.

“The fishermen deserve money so that they go and decide which alternative ventures to get into. It shouldn’t be decided for them in such a situation, “said Shariff.