|Lamu County Governor Issa Timamy (left) consults with the chairman of the LAPSET Board Francis Muthaura (right) after residents of Kililana village in lamu county blocked the road leading to the new Lamu port as they were protesting that the government is yet to compensate them for their land. [Photo by Paul Gitau./STANDARD]|
Lamu, Kenya: Residents of Kililana in Lamu County on Thursday blocked a senior official from visiting the proposed site for the Lamu port over delayed compensation for their land.
Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project board Chairman Francis Muthaura’s entourage could not access the site for almost an hour as locals claimed a new list of claimants to the payout was in circulation.
This was Muthaura’s maiden visit to the project ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s tour next month where he is expected to launch the construction of the three berths.
Waving banners and twigs, residents said the government had already signed a contract and the construction of three berths was set to commence yet they had not been paid.
It is not clear how the demonstrators knew Muthaura was visiting the Lamu corridor site using the route they had barricaded.
This compelled the intervention of Governor Issa Timamy and the police to calm the angry protesters.
Kililana landowners’ spokesman Mohamed Rajab, addressing Muthaura and other dignitaries at the roadblock, said they have been following up on the matter since 2008 and that the Government had promised to pay them before any construction work began.
“We have been patient all through and as we speak, the port police station and port administration block and offices which have been constructed on our land have almost been completed, yet we are yet to be compensated,” Rajab said.
He said residents were promised payment by the end of last month but had not received the monies even after presenting their bank accounts and personal details to the Kenya Ports Authority.
“There was a verification process from the National Land Commission and 146 people were to be paid. But we now hear there is another list of 62,” said Rajab.
But Muthaura said compensation for lost land will start at the end of August and disclosed that the State was already sponsoring 167 youths from the area to join various institutions of higher learning.
“The government has set aside funds for the compensation by the end of this month. By the end of this month money will be dispatched to your bank accounts,” said Muthaura. The government will spend Sh1 billion as compensation at a cost of Sh1.5 million per acre.