Lapsset rules out cash for displaced Lamu fishermen

Mr Silvester Kasuku (left) with an Igad official at a past event. file photo | nmg
Mr Silvester Kasuku (left) with an Igad official at a past event. file photo | nmg 

More than 7,000 fishermen who were displaced by dredging at the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project in Kililana will not get monetary compensation.

Lapsset Corridor Development Authority director-general Silvester Kasuku told journalists on Tuesday the fishermen would instead get fishing equipment.

Mr Kasuku said talks were goin on to provide all the affected fishermen with skills and equipment that will enable them to conduct fishing on the deep seas.

The fishermen, most of whom rely on the Mkanda Channel, had sought to be compensated for the remaining period of their lives which they will be locked out of the safer fishing waters of the Indian Ocean due to dredging.

Mr Kasuku said monetary compensation was unrealistic and untenable in their case.

Due to the dredging, they said the traditional fishing waters at the Mkanda Channel have been closed off to many small fisher persons who depend on the channel for livelihood.

Artisanal fishermen have abandoned their trade on the safer channels, saying the high seas were out of bounds with the simple fishing gear.

The fishermen have tried to seek compensation for the impending loss of their traditional fishing avenues without success for years.

The authority was focusing more on equipping the fisher folk with skills and equipment like “powerful” boat engines to access the high seas.

Mr Kasuku asked the affected people to form or join Beach Management Units to enable them get the services sooner.

“The fishermen should rest assured that they will be compensated in kind and not in cash. We are in talks with the national government, the county government and the Lapsset so that we can agree on the degree of comparable compensation. We shall give them skills and equipment so that they continue with the trade,” said Mr Kasuku.

There have been revelations of a lack of awareness on sustainable development by key stakeholders and the host community and a failure by the government to domesticate, harmonise, and implement what will see the fisher folk suffer less due to the mega project.