Lamu raises the alarm over mega projects eroding its heritage

Lamu was listed by Unesco as a world heritage
Lamu was listed by Unesco as a world heritage site in 2001. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Lamu County is working on a raft of policies to preserve the culture and heritage of the historical town as mega projects come up in the area, promising to disrupt its lifestyle.

The focus is on projects such as the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project, the planned coal fired power plant, Baharini wind farm and oil and gas exploration, officials said.

The town, whose narrow alleyways are meant for movement by foot and on donkeys has already been encroached by motorcycles and vehicles.

Mr Dismas Mwasambu, the county’s Tourism, Trade and industrialisation executive said at least 1.5 million people who will be coming to Lamu to work on the various mega projects could alter the historical culture if measures are not taken to safeguard it.

He added that the county had so far formed a team of experts comprising its officials, Lapsset board representatives and from the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) to formulate policies.

The team has also been tasked with moving around the entire county to create awareness and encourage locals to preserve their heritage.

Lamu’s well-kept heritage and culture continues to be the region’s biggest tourist attraction.

Mr Mwasambu said the was need for legal framework to guide the projects for the benefit of the community.

“We are viewing Lamu as the next frontier in the next five to 10 years. However, in a move to ensure no erosion of the Lamu cultures and heritage, we have begun initiating proper regulations to curb any erosion,” said Mr Mwasambu.

He predicted “a massive influx” of people from all walks of life coming to Lamu.

Lamu needs some sort of guard to protect against foreign influence that can easily seep in and do injustice to the heritage, which is a key tourist attraction, reiterated the county official.

A special committee will be in place to work on the details, said Mr Mwasambu.

Lamu was listed by Unesco as a world heritage site in 2001 but it’s currently risking losing heritage status owing to too much Western influence.