At least 5,000 fishermen displaced by the ongoing construction of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) project are now calling on the national government to raise the compensation money from Sh1.76 billion to at least Sh3 billion.
On May 1 this year, the Malindi High Court directed the national government to compensate the fishermen Sh1.76 billion after it ruled that the project failed to meet basic constitutional and legal requirements.
The court ruled that the government violated the community’s cultural rights and the right to a clean and healthy environment when they started the project.
Speaking in Lamu on Sunday through their spokesperson Mohamed Athman, the fishermen said the Sh1.76 billion - which is expected to be shared among the 5,000 fishermen affected by the project - is not enough.
Mr Athman said with the Sh1.76 billion compensation, each fisherman stands to get Sh352,000.
"That is too little compensation for an entire livelihood that would have fetched millions for each of us in returns.
"We urge the government to increase the cash from Sh1.76 billion to Sh3 billion so that each of us can get at least Sh600,000. With such an amount, we will be able to start other ventures to sustain our lives," Mr Athman said.
The fishermen also asked the government to ensure proper identification and verification of all the genuine fishermen affected by the project before the cash is released.
“We have seen a scenario where compensation monies are given to fake individuals at the expense of genuine beneficiaries. We urge the government to ensure proper identification and vetting of the genuine fishermen before the cash is released,” Mr Mohamed Mbwana said.
He also called on the government to speed up the compensation, insisting that continued delay paves way for con men to infiltrate the process.
Meanwhile, community-based organisations in the county have called on the government to invite financial experts to hold talks with the fishermen expecting compensation before the money is released.
Activists drawn from Save Lamu, Lamu Youth Alliance and Lamu Marine Forum have been fighting for the rights of the fishermen.
Lamu Youth Alliance chairman Walid Ahmed said it is important for the fishermen to get financial advice on how to put the compensation money to good use.
“Before the fishermen receive the money, the government should help each of them come up with a plan of what they intend to do,” he advised.