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Timamy explains why Uhuru cancelled new Lamu Port function

By Patrick Beja | May 24th 2015

Governor Issa Timamy yesterday said squatters occupying part of Manda airport will be relocated and given four acres of land each.

The governor said this has been made possible following negotiations between his administration and the Government.

"We have no issues with the 23 families because they have agreed to be relocated from the airstrip where they have been posing as a security threat to incoming planes," he said.

Speaking to The Standard, Mr Timamy said the area occupied by the squatters has now been cleared ahead of a visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta, and at least seven other African presidents, for the groundbreaking of Lamu Port construction.

Timamy denied that the function, which was to take place tomorrow, had been cancelled over security fears saying it had been postponed because several of the other presidents had other commitments.

"The government has postponed the function by a month within which time these logistics issues will have been addressed. It is a big function that will be attended by eight presidents from the African region," Timamy explained.

Last week, squatters living on part of Manda Airstrip land, where the leaders were scheduled to land, refused to move out claiming they have legal rights over the land even as the governor made frantic efforts to convince them to pave way.

Their presence had been declared a security risk and they were asked to leave before the ceremony but they remained adamant causing concerns among Government officials.

Won't budge

Through their spokesman, Ibrahim Kinyanjui, the squatters had refused to budge saying they have lived on the land since 1964, before the airstrip was established, and would not move out without being compensated.

They had gone a step further and obtained a court order halting their removal from the airstrip land.

The governor had earlier said the airstrip land belonged to Government and that the squatters would only be paid for their houses and plantation.

However, he has now said the squatters would get free land on Manda so as to vacate the airstrip land.

At the same time, the governor said squatters have been willingly moving out of Kililana land where the Lamu Port is to be constructed.

National Land Commission (NLC) had also been making frantic efforts to pay the second batch of 88 squatters from Kililana to pave way for construction of the port.

NLC is expected to pay out Sh1.3 billion to 157 squatters who had settled in the area earmarked for the port.

This is part of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project that will offer an opportunity for development of Kenya's maritime resources.

The Lapsset project is expected to open up Northern Kenya and link up Kenya with South Sudan and Ethiopia.

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