LAPSSET dredging takes toll on water sports

Snorkelling which is one the sports affected by dredging PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu,KENYA:Major tourism activities in Lamu are now being hampered by dredging activities at the Lamu Port-Lapsset.

They include snorkeling and sport fishing.

According to the Snorkel Association of Lamu,most tourists coming to Lamu can no longer engage in the fun activity since dredging has made snorkeling and sport fishing zones in the Indian Ocean either impossible or dangerous altogether.

The group teaches,helps and accompany tourists on snorkeling and sport fishing expeditions on the Indian Ocean in Lamu.

The Lapsset is a Sh.2.5 Trillion project being set up in Lamu’s Kililana area.

Speaking in Lamu on Tuesday,the association chairperson Fahad Musa said the two sports had greatly dwindled due to the Lapsset activities.

Lamu as tourist destination is known for the best coral reefs which are crucial for snorkeling and sport fishing expeditions in the entire coastline.

Musa says majority of the coral reefs don’t exist as they have already been brought down by dredging activities.

“Lamu even beats Zanzibar when it comes to the best snorkeling and sport fishing experience.The two have been among activities greatly enjoyed by tourists who com here but due to dredging that experience has waned.Its very dangerous to try the sports where dredging is happening.Majority of the best coral reefs have been felled and others are still facing the same fate,”said Musa.

Musa says at least 300 youth in the association who were directly dependent on the sports for livelihoods have been rendered jobless since many tourists no longer want to snorkel in Lamu due to the obvious danger posed by dredging.

The association wants president Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and either stop further destruction of coral reefs or have them compensated for the destruction of livelihoods so that they pursue alternative ventures.

“If they cant stop the dredging and save these two sports,then let them compensate us for this has been our livelihood so that we can see where else to go look for work,”he added.

Athman Mahazi who is a diver and snorkeling enthusiast in Lamu’s Shella beach area says they are now forced to take tourists to the deeper and open seas for snorkeling which is extremely dangerous since the sport is best done in shallow waters.

Mahazi wants all snorkel experts affected by the Lapsset in Lamu compensated just like all other parties affected by the project.

“The Lapsset has affected so many people’s livelihoods and not just fishermen and land owners.The port’s activities have adversely affected major tourism activities and that’s where we come in.As an association our lives have taken a bad turn,we need compensation to start a new elsewhere,”said Mahazi.