Local leaders in Lamu have expressed concern over indigenous youths likely to miss out on job opportunities once the Lamu Port begins operations in June this year.
Members of the Lamu Youth Assembly have questioned the manner in which Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Lappset Corridor Development Authority (LCDA) wishes to recruit personnel amid fears that local youths could be left out, once the gold rush for jobs begins at the Lamu Port.
The Youth Assembly President Habib Ali Omar in his remarks stated that unless all stakeholders involved in the operationalization of the Lamu Port are brought on board, youths and entrepreneurs from the area are likely to end up disenfranchised at the expense of non-locals.
“There has been a lot of talk around employing local youths and even granting local entrepreneurs opportunities with the opening and operationalization of the Lamu Port, yet no word from KPA or even LCDA has been forthcoming,” Habib stated.
The Lamu Youth Assembly is a community based organization that mirrors the Lamu County Assembly in structure whose aim according to its members is to represent issues affecting youths in the County.
The youth activist further stated that LAPSSET had promised to employ at least 100 local youths last year yet no word has been forthcoming regarding those who were finally selected for the position of Dockers that were previously advertised.
“Lamu residents are likely to end up looking from the outside in with regards to the Lamu project, because, even out of the 1,000 scholarship positions that were guaranteed for local youths during the Kibaki era, only 400 have gone through, with many of those who have graduated yet to be gainfully employed,” Habib stated.
He further stated that with increased movement and murmurs surrounding the operationalization of the Lamu Port, there is need for the Lamu Port Operationalization Secretariat to rope in the County government in the new development.
“There is also the question of those fishermen affected by the dredging exercise at the Lamu Port area in Kililana whereby no compensation efforts have been forthcoming,” the Youth Assembly Majority leader Is’akhia Hassan said.
He further noted that despite a Malindi High Court ruling in favour of the fishermen to receive a collective compensation of Sh1.68 billion there has been no headway made, adding that KPA and LCDA have been stalling the compensation process.
According to LAPSSET Regional Manager Salim Bunu, the hold up in compensating the fishermen has been due to a lack of single authentic list which should be used to compensate with one list showing that at least 5,000 fishermen should be compensated.
“The Lamu port will begin operations, at the expense of Lamu people, many of whom fear that the project could eventually belong to outsiders, due to the lack of involvement or ownership of the project by locals,” Is’akhia stated.
Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip in his remarks stated that there is need for local leaders to be vigilant with regards to opportunities for locals at the Lamu Port, adding that failure to drum up pressure on respective agencies could lead to the Lamu residents being left out of the Vision 2030 project.
“When one takes into context remarks made by Maritime Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu, about coastal people lacking qualifications or skills to work in the ports, there is need for leaders to ensure that our people are not marginalized as has been the case in previous years,” Loitiptip stated.
However, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia on his part stated that according to plans by the Lamu Port Operationalization Secretariat, LCDA in conjunction with KPA have a blueprint that will entail developing a Lamu Port City in collaboration with the Lamu County government.
“Local residents are the first resource for the Lamu Port project and its operationalization once it completes all its three berths in October this year,” Macharia said.
By Amenya Ochieng