The Sh1.7 billion compensation to the fishermen affected by construction of the Lamu port has been delayed after they demanded to be paid cash in full, going against the agreement that had been reached earlier.
Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) acting managing director Rashid Salim said the agency had agreed with the officials of the Beach Management Unit that 65 percent of the compensation would be in cash and 35 percent in form of equipment.
However, this agreement was turned down with the fishers wanting 100 percent in cash.
Mr Salim said it is the government’s directive that the fishermen receive compensation in cash and equipment, noting that the recipients could squander the offer if given in cash only.
“The national government cannot agree to pay the fishermen 100 percent in cash because there must be an element of sustainability, which can only be achieved if we give them both cash and equipment,” said Mr Salim.
The High Court had ordered the government to pay Sh1.76 billion in compensation to 4,600 fishermen in Lamu County affected by the Lapsset project in 2018. The fishermen who had presented environmental experts to testify in the case filed in 2012 argued that the dredging at the Indian Ocean for the construction of Lamu port had destroyed mangrove forests, sea grass, and coral reefs which are nesting areas for fish and turtled.
This week, fishermen from Lamu accused the government of not compensating them before the commissioning of the port last week and threatened to move to court to challenge the delay, accusing the State of shortchanging them.
However, KPA says they already have the cash and would release the compensation if they agree on the terms as laid out in the report.
“We are ready to release the compensation package once they stick to the agreement that we had reached initially,” said the MD.
The Port of Lamu, launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week, is expected to be the largest port in sub-Saharan Africa and will target countries along the Indian Ocean Islands such as Seychelles and Comoros. The port is a key part of the wider Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor.