Construction of four key jetties in Lamu will start “soon” after a two-month delay, the government has said.
The government had earlier announced that the facilities including Mokowe, Mtangawanda, Manda, and Lamu Mangrove Customs jetties would be built at a cost of Sh649 million.
Public Works principal secretary Paul Maringa had announced that construction would commence in November 2018.
So far no work has begun on jetties, a move that has left users questioning why the government was taking too long to undertake the project.
Addressing journalists during a tour of Lamu County, Mr Maringa said tenders had already been given and that the work was set to begin in three weeks’ time.
He explained that the delay was due to government procedures undertaken before tenders were given to the contractor.
He said they had to spend time on soliciting for appropriate engineers who will undertake construction.
The PS said the government had already released funds for construction of the jetties and called on locals to be patient.
“Construction of the jetties was supposed to commence in November but that didn’t happen. We had to take time to solicit for an appropriate engineer who will construct the jetties in the required standards. Issuance of government tenders is also procedural.
“As we speak, tenders have already been initiated and finalised. We have also identified engineers to do the work.
“All we ask for is a little more time and patience. I expect work to begin in two to three weeks,” said Mr Maringa. According to an earlier breakdown Mokowe jetty was allocated Sh520 million, Mtangawanda Sh62 million, Manda Sh35 million and Lamu Mangrove Customs Jetty Sh32 million.
The jetties are in dilapidated condition.
Rehabilitation of the three smaller jetties is set to take between four to eight months.
Mokowe jetty, the largest, will be ready in two years.
Jetties are a crucial element of the local transport system as they are the main entry and exit points to Lamu town and adjacent islands.
However, all major jetties in the county are structurally unsound due to lack of maintenance.
In September last year, a pontoon detached from its piles at the Mtangawanda jetty and disappeared into the Indian Ocean.
The pontoon has never been recovered and the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has warned that it’s a danger to navigation.
Local leaders have questioned the delay in repair work on the jetties considering that funds have already been disbursed and the necessary logistics completed.
“We call on the government to treat the matter with the urgency it requires and speed up the work so as to allow for safe transport in Lamu. Our women are suffering while using the jetties,” said Lamu women representative Ruweida Obbo.
Boat operators coming to Lamu town are forced to use one side of the Lamu Mangrove Customs Jetty after the other collapsed due to overuse and lack of maintenance.
The situation is the same at Mokowe where travellers also use one side of the jetty after one part collapsed into the Ocean due to corrosion and lack of maintenance.
The two jetties are the only entry and exit points to Lamu town.