Residents of Lamu East Sub-County are a happy lot after the region was this week connected to the national electricity grid for the first time since independence.
This means the region will no longer depend on private diesel power generators as it has been the norm for the past 56 years.
Lamu East has over 15,000 residents who are scattered on the various islands, most of which are in far flung areas.
Apart from the diesel generators that reached just a few residents who are within Faza Town, majority of the residents have for decades spent their lives in darkness while the few well-to-do ones installed solar panels.
Residents interviewed by the Nation during the launch of the national electricity grid connection in Mtangawanda, Siyu, Kizingitini, Faza, Mbwajumwali, Pate and neighbouring areas could not hide their joy.
Mr Khaldun Vae, an elder termed the move as a new dawn for Lamu East which has for decades been marginalised by successive governments.
Mr Vae said that the decades that the sub-county had relied on generators and solar lights had discouraged many potential investors from establishing industries there.
“We’re happy that finally we’ve been connected to the national electricity grid. Surely, this is history. It’s a very crucial occurrence in our lives as islanders. Living in darkness for 56 years of independence isn’t a joke. We’ve suffered immense marginalisation and there was nothing we could do but today we’re glad,” said Mr Vae.
Mrs Fauzia Loo said the electricity connection will help reduce crime and insecurity as well as improve the general growth of Lamu East.
“We will now be able to compete with our counterparts in Lamu Town, Mpeketoni and even outside the county in terms of development and trade. This place will once experience peace and tranquillity as streets, towns and villages are now lit,” said Mrs Loo.
The official launch of the project was presided over by Lamu East MP Athman Shariff and other county leaders who stressed the need for locals to cooperate with both the county and national governments in ensuring development goals are achieved in their area.
In 2016, the Lamu archipelago, particularly Lamu Old Town and Shella Town was for the first time connected to the national electricity grid, a move which residents say has already brought a lot of progress to the region.
The connection of Lamu East to the national electricity grid is part of the county government’s Sh54 million project aimed at installing over 4,000 street lights along major roads, towns and villages in the region.
Early November 2018, the county government of Lamu under the leadership of Governor Fahim Twaha and the Kenya Power company inked a deal for the installation and maintenance of street lights across the county.
The first phase of street lights installation began in December last year.