Parliament committee on Environment to lift Lamu mangrove logging ban

Chairperson of the Lamu Mangrove Community Forest Association-CFA Abdulrahman Aboud at his work site. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: The National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has pledged to push and ensure an end to ongoing mangrove logging ban in Lamu.

Speaking during a three-day tour of Lamu over the weekend, the committee chair Kareke Mbiuki who is also MP for Maara pledged to ensure the mangrove ban is lifted in Lamu.

The committee also toured Ndau village in Lamu East which is considered to have been worst hit by the mangrove ban.

Ndau village started as a camp for mangrove loggers who would come from other islands and would use the village as their mangrove collection centre and resting place in case night time fell before they made it back home.

With time and due to the mangrove trade, the centre turned into an island and village that is Ndau today with over 2000 residents living there and depending entirely on mangroves for their livelihood.

A nationwide logging ban was imposed on February 24 this year by Deputy President William Ruto with main objective being to fight environmental destruction, protect water towers and to mitigate effects of drought across the country.

However addressing Mangrove loggers at Ndau over the weekend,Mbiuki said the committee had taken into consideration the amount of suffering caused by the mangrove logging ban and would work to ensure the situation changes for Lamu in the near future.

“We have heard the numerous complaints from thousands of mangrove loggers whose livelihoods lie with the trade. That’s why we are here today. As a committee, we have met the mangrove loggers themselves and got a chance to hear their plight. We can, therefore, promise as a committee that the mangrove logging ban will soon be lifted. We shall submit our report with the necessary recommendations and we are positive the ban will be reviewed,”said Mbiuki.

Lamu County women rep Ruweida Obbo said almost half of Lamu’s population depend directly on mangrove logging for survival and besieged the committee to push for the lifting of the ban.

Obbo feels the logging ban should have excluded mangrove logging in Lamu as the trade is an inherited tradition spanning many decades.

“Mangroves are literally part of the culture and heritage of Lamu and as such Lamu can’t function without mangroves. Livelihoods are dead too, nothing is normal anymore. We ask the government to reconsider,” said Obbo.

At least 30,000 households in Lamu depend directly on mangrove logging for survival.

Mangrove Cutters Association Chairman Abdulrahman Aboud called on the government to speed up the lifting of the ban and also have all mangrove loggers compensated for the loss incurred as a result of the blindly imposed ban on Lamu residents.

Aboud said many of them were forced into the business especially after their other sources of livelihoods that is fishing and tourism were badly affected by insecurity caused by frequent Al Shabaab attacks in Lamu.

“Mangrove loggers right from Lamu Old Town to Ndau, Kiwayu, Faza, Kizingitini, Pate, Siyu and Manda depend on the business for sustenance. You can’t impose a blanket ban on forest especially mangroves at a time when the Lamu residents have no other means of survival except the mangrove trade. Let the government lift the ban. We also want the government to compensate us for the time we have been out of the business. We have lost millions,” said Mr. Aboud.

The Committee toured the region following a petition submitted to the National Assembly by Lamu Women Rep Ruweida Obbo calling for a review of the mangrove logging ban.