The Government has been ordered to pay 5,000 fishermen Sh1.7 billion for failing to consider the environmental harm caused by the Lamu Port, South Sudan, Ethiopia Transport Corridor project in Lamu.
In a verdict that could portend a big win for Lamu Island residents, the High Court also ordered the State to return the Sh2.5 trillion Lapsset corridor project to the National Environment Management Authority for re-evaluation and report back the findings to the court within a year.
“The court finds that the local fishermen are entitled to full and prompt compensation for the loss of their traditional fishing methods and the failure to compensate them is unfair, discriminatory, and gross violation of their right to earn a living,” the court ruled yesterday.
High Court judges Pauline Nyamweya, Joel Ngugi, Jaden Thuranira, John Mativo, and Joseph Onguto found that the State did not provide evidence on how it was going to deal with marine life after the dredging of Lamu port.
The judges said the State did not have a plan on how to preserve Lamu Island as a heritage and the culture of its people.
Although the judges were of the view that the project was key to the economy, they found that its plans were haphazardly done as they were no consultations with the residents and that the State failed to carry out scientific environmental tests.
The case was filed by two fishermen, Mohamed Ali Baadi and Mohamed Somo, who were represented by lawyer Waikwa Wanyoike, Lempaa Soyinka, and Christine Konge.
The judges found that consultation should not have ended at the planning stage.
“The project proponents failed to adhere to the environmental impact assessment licence, which clearly required that the respondents develop an environmental monitoring and management plan for the first three berths of the proposed Lamu port,” the judges who sat at the Malindi High Court, said.