Lamu leaders plan protest over exclusion of locals from Lapsset

Lamu County Majority Leader Yahya Ahmed Basothe with other members of the County Assembly addressing the press in Mombasa February 14, 2018. Photo | Kevin Odit | NMG
Lamu County Majority Leader Yahya Ahmed Basothe with other members of the County Assembly addressing the press in Mombasa February 14, 2018. Photo | Kevin Odit | NMG 

Fifteen members of the Lamu County Assembly have threatened to destabilise operations of the multi-billion shilling Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project over non-involvement of locals.

Addressing the press at Bliss Resort in Nyali, Mombasa County, MCAs including majority leader Yahya Ahmed said they would lead demonstrations to protest discrimination of locals.

“From next week we will take to the streets until our pleas are heard. We cannot have a project in our county that does not benefit us. We have our people there but in the entire project they have not been involved at all,” said Mr Yahya.

He claims that despite agreement with the national government on how the project should be implemented to benefit locals, nothing was done.

“All the works that are going on there are being done by people brought from other places. We had agreed that our fishermen and landowners will be fully compensated but they are yet to get what they deserve,” he added.


The MCAs also claim that jobs that do not require any education qualifications had also not been offered to locals thus derailing their development.

“Jobs like coxswain, cleaner and other simple works have not been given to the locals. Why is the project in Lamu if it does not benefit the residents first? This is not fair at all and we cannot continue to sit down and watch,” he said.

Youth programmes

The politicians said the project's scholarship programme was also yet to be fulfilled. It was expected to benefit about 1,000 youth but only 370 have been admitted to different institutions, the MCAs say.

The plan to educate 1,000 students from Lamu, dubbed the Lapsset Youth Presidential Scholarship Programme, was a directive from former President Mwai Kibaki intended to train on technical operations ahead of opening of the Lamu port.

Last week, Lapsset head of corporate affairs Benson Thuita said the programme - which was to be conducted in five phases with 200 youth enrolled every year - has been faced with financial constraints.

The agency was to spend Sh57 million on the programme, but an audit by Auditor- General Edward Ouko presented in parliament last year had accused Lapsset's management of spending a paltry Sh1.8 million.

The programme was to be completed this year.

Lamu deputy speaker Sheikh Abdallah Baabad said if their grievances are not addressed they will have to revisit the conditions they had set during negotiations with the national government on the project.

“Among the agreements was the employment of 70 per cent of locals which has not been done at all. We either get what we had agreed on or we change the agreements,” he said.

The MCAs' outcry comes ahead of a Lamu visit by Lapsset and Ministry of Transport top officials to inspect the progress of the project today.