Crisis deepens in the LAPSSET land saga

Lapsset CEO Silvester Kasuku, and other stakeholders, addresses journalists at Lamu port headquarters. FILE/PHOTO.

Lamu, KENYA: The crisis revolving around the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor has deepened further, two weeks after Lamu leaders walked out of a stakeholder meeting.

This is after national government refuted claims by county leaders and locals that the 70,000 acres of land allocated to the project were irregularly acquired.

Two weeks ago,Lamu governor Fahim Twaha led other county leaders in a walkout from a meeting chaired by Petroleum PS Andrew Kamau in Lamu citing non-cooperation on the part of the government.

The meeting’s main objective had been to deliberate on matters land acquisition for the Sh 2.5 trillion LAPSSET projects but the county leadership stated that the National Lands Commission-NLC had refused to address their grievances on the thorny land acquisition issue.

The leaders had argued that the 70,000 acres were in excess of what the NLC had made them believe had been acquired for the project.

They also said those concerned were not forthcoming on whether or not those displaced will be compensated and how that would happen.

However while coming to the defense of the national government on the matter on Tuesday,Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri insisted that 70,000 acres were rightfully acquired and that all constitutional procedures had been followed to the latter.

He said he was surprised that leaders would come up with such outrageous allegations on the matter since they had all been included and fully consulted during the entire process.

“The leaders were all consulted and they can go back to the records to prove that. The lands in question were regularly acquired and there are records to that effect. All these were done with the previous county leadership and as much as we have a new administration now, it doesn’t render decisions made by former leaders irrelevant. People should look into history records before rushing to complain, it’s unwise,”said Kanyiri.

Drama as Lamu leaders storm out of LAPSSET stakeholder meeting

Kanyiri said there was the need for people to understand that majority of the 70,000 acres are covered by water masses and not land as assumed by many.

He said land makes up only 32,500 acres while the rest is water.

“Many keep referring to the 70,000 acres as though the entire amount is pure land. What many don’t know is that a huge chunk of that acreage is actually water and we are talking more than half of that entire acreage. People should seek to equip themselves with the correct information before they can make any hasty decisions. At the end of the day both the county and national governments have to work together for best of Kenyans,” he said.

Kanyiri assured that all those displaced by national projects in Lamu that they will be dully compensated.

Uncertainty as completion date of first Lamu port berth moved again

However, Lamu leaders have remained adamant that they would not back the project citing the means through which the land was acquired as questionable.