Lamu, KENYA: Fishermen who have been displaced by the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor project-LAPSSET in Lamu have raised the alarm of a plot by a group of individuals to hijack their impending compensation package.
At least 5000 fishermen will no longer be able to carry on with the venture after many of the traditional fishing channels in the Indian Ocean were closed off due to the ongoing dredging activities at the Lapsset.
On May 1 this year, the Malindi High Court awarded a compensation package of Sh.1.76 Billion to fishermen displaced by the new port following a successful petition.
The fishermen had sought legal redress arguing that they would no longer be able to carry on with then venture due to activities at the Lapsset and as such their livelihoods would eternally suffer and as such deserved compensation to enable them to pursue alternative livelihoods.
Speaking when they met the county leaders to deliberate on the issue of compensation in Lamu on Friday, the fishermen said they were aware of plans by a section of fishermen from other parts of Lamu not affected by the Lapsset, to fix themselves in the list of those to be compensated.
The chairperson of the Lamu Fishermen Association Mohamed Somo said that names of fishermen not affected had cropped up in the list.
“Those of us who operate on the Indian Ocean are the only ones who have been affected by Lapsset. But people must know that there are fishermen who conduct their trade on the various lakes and rivers across the region. These ones haven’t been affected in any way and are still going on with their venture but we are shocked that they have fixed their names on the list of those seeking compensation. ” Somo said.
The fishermen said they are concerned that there could be plans to con the genuinely displaced fishermen from receiving the compensation monies.
Similarly, the fishermen now want all those affected by the Lapsset to be thoroughly vetted and approved so as to seal off any gaps that would compromise the entire compensation process.
“There is something that happened in 2015 when those whose lands had been acquired for the Lapsset were being compensated in that the list ended up being full of fake names and impostors who walked away with millions as the real owners still languish in poverty. We don’t want the same scenario with our own situation and that’s why we are blowing the whistle this early to let all those concerned know that there are plans to hijack the process,” said Ali Ahmed, one of the affected fishermen.
Meanwhile, the fishermen still insist they will accept nothing short of monetary compensation.
The Lapsset board had proposed to have the fishermen receive comparable compensation which would mean they only receive a small amount of cash and fishing equipment.
“The fishing channels have already been destroyed and giving us machinery won’t help in any way. We just want the cash so we can start other business and move on. We don’t want people arm-twisting us on this matter, that’s final,” said Somo.