Repair of Lamu’s dilapidated jetties yet to commence

Photo of a section of the Lamu customs jetty closed off in March after it collapsed. The government is yet to commence rehabilitation of the Lamu jetties PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: The national government is yet to commence construction and rehabilitation of four key Lamu jetties that are a dilapidated condition.

Last month, while on a tour of the jetties in Lamu, Transport and Infrastructure PS Paul Maringa announced that the government had finally disbursed the Sh.649 Million meant for rehabilitation works of the jetties.

According to the PS, the breakdown had already been done and that the Mokowe Customs Jetty has been allocated Sh.520 Million, the Mtangawanda jetty gets Sh.62 Million, the Manda airport jetty gets Sh.35 Million while Sh.32 Million goes into the renovation of the Lamu Mangrove Customs Jetty.

Maringa had said that construction works would kick off in November and indicated that the three smaller jetties, that’s is the Mtangawanda, Manda airport and the Lamu Jetty will all be ready by May 2019 while the Mokowe Customs Jetty which is the largest of all jetties in Lamu will be ready in two years time.

Jetties are a crucial element of Lamu’s transport system as they are the main entry and exit points to Lamu town and adjacent islands.

However, all the major jetties in the county are currently structurally unsound following a lack of consistent maintenance.

Lamu jetties to be repaired

In September, a pontoon detached from its piles at the dilapidated Mtangawanda jetty in Lamu East and disappeared into the Indian Ocean.

It has never been recovered and the Kenya Maritime Authority-KMA office has warned that it’s a danger to navigation in the region.

When contacted over the delay, Structural Engineer in the State Department of Public Works Hillary Nyaanga simply called for calm and patience saying the tendering process was actually initiated just this week.

Nyaanga, however, expressed confidence that the works would kick off in three week’s time

“We just commenced tendering but we are sure to be starting in three weeks. All we ask for is a little more time and patience before we begin the visible groundwork. This whole thing is still very much on course,”said Nyaanga.

There had been questions and disgruntlement over the delay by the national treasury to release the funds for the rehabilitation of the jetties which had been allocated back in 2016.

Locals and other players are now questioning the delay in commencement of works considering the necessary funds have already been disbursed and the necessary logistics completed.

Boat operators have urged the government to treat the matter with the urgency it requires and speeds up the necessary works so as to allow for safe transport in the region.

Coxswain Salim Kombo says “They said they would start in November, here we are at mid-November and still no show. That has been the cycle but they need to take this matter seriously because of the bad state of jetties in endangering lives and making transport difficult. If the money has been released, why must they take so long again?

Boat operators in coming to Lamu town are now forced to squeeze up and only use one side of the Lamu customs jetty after the other one collapsed due to overuse and lack of maintenance.

The situation is the same at the Mokowe customs jetty, the largest in the region, where travelers have also been forced to only use one side of the jetty after one part of the jetty collapsed into the ocean due to corrosion and lack of maintenance.

The two jetties are the only entry and exit points into and out of Lamu town.

However, their current state remains unappealing.