The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has announced plans to begin compensating 4,734 fishermen whose livelihoods were affected by the construction of the first three berths of the recently opened Port of Lamu.
The long-awaited compensation of the affected fisherfolk has been finalized, with KPA acting Managing Director, Eng. Rashid Salim saying a total of Ksh.1,760, 424,000 shall be utilized to compensate the fishermen in cash and for sustainability projects.
“In the lead up to the operationalization of the first berth of the port of Lamu, the need to conclude the compensation before completion and operationalisation of the works on the first three berths was prioritized. Accordingly, the Task Force on Fishermen Compensation was reconstituted and facilitated to complete the process of identifying the list of 4,734 beneficiaries as outlined in the Lamu County report tabled in the High Court,” said Eng. Salim.
KPA, as the project proponent, facilitated and embarked on a two-week exercise running from April 25 to May this year that entailed verifying and validating the fisherfolk who will be compensated, as stipulated in the adopted report presented to the court.
At the end of the verification process, the final list of the fishermen to receive compensation was arrived at and was signed by the BMU leadership and the Lamu County government.
The announcement comes slightly over three years since the High Court, in April 2018, found rampant environmental violations by the flagship project and awarded Ksh.1.76 billion to affected Lamu fishermen.
It is a relief to fishermen in Lamu who have been waiting for the fulfillment of compensation pledges.
“Already three years have passed since the court awarded us this compensation, which has been owed to us since 2014 when the port project began.” said Somo M. Somo, Chairman of the Lamu County Beach Management Unit.
The KPA acting MD, however, said that compensation shall commence once the fishermen provide the bank account details and their lawyers have executed the consent letter required to be filed in court.
“The fisherfolk, through the Beach Management Units (Beach Management Units) leadership and the County Government of Lamu, have been asked to ensure that they have submitted their correct bank accounts to ease payments of cash compensation,”
In the meantime, a consent note which has been agreed by all parties shall be filed in court to bring to a close the legal proceedings to hasten the compensation exercise.
Lamu port was constructed by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), associated with the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) at a cost of Ksh.54 billion (USD $500 million).