Keep Lamu constituencies, solve all problems, MPs tell government

Monday September 3 2018

Lamu MPs

Lamu East MP Athman Shariff and Lamu West's Stanley Muthama converse at the Lamu Old Town Seafront on September 3, 2018.PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Three Lamu county legislators have opposed the IEBC's plan to scrap the two constituencies in the region in a possible review in the future.

This would amount to marginalisation and would deny residents proper representation, MPs Stanley Muthama (Lamu West), Athman Shariff (Lamu East) and Woman Representative Ruweida Obbo said.


At least 27 constituencies which did not meet a population criteria in the 2012 boundary review will be open to change in the upcoming evaluation.

The 27 constituencies that were saved that year include Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi, Voi, Bura, Galole, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Murkurweini, Othaya, Kangema, and Mathioya. The others are Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio, Vihiga, Budalang’i, Isiolo South, Kilome, Laisamis, North Horr, Saku and Mbeere North.

Speaking to journalists in Lamu on Monday, Mr Muthama said the move will take Lamu to the "dark ages in which the region was heavily marginalised by the national government".

The legislator explained that residents have fled due to the region's infrastructural, educational and security challenges. He added that the insecurity occasioned by terror group al Shabaab is the biggest reason why people are leaving the county.


Mr Muthama challenged the government to fully address all of Lamu's challenges instead of "rushing to scrap constituencies".

“I am in support of Jubilee government's [success] in all its endeavors. However, I strongly oppose the plan to scrap our constituencies," he said.

"People shouldn’t rush to consider population as the key reason. There are very many challenges that have led to the low population in Lamu.

"For the past 55 year of independence, Lamu hasn’t had even five kilometres of a tarmacked road, not to mention the insecurity. Look at the education and health sectors which are almost non-functional in some areas. The government should look into improving all these instead of trying to cut out constituencies. It's irrational for anyone to do that so we won’t let it happen."


While noting that a large part of the county is covered by the Indian Ocean, Mr Shariff said that during the 2009 census, many residents were not reached due to transport challenges.

He said it would be improper for the IEBC to use the 2009 census results to determine whether Lamu constituencies should be scrapped.

“If they scrap the two constituencies, does it mean that Lamu will be joined to Tana River county? That’s illogical ... we won’t allow that. Lamu is huge," the MP said.

"People live all over, in places that couldn’t have been reached by those who were conducting the 2009 census. How can someone say they want to use such information to scrap these constituencies? Unlike other counties which can be covered in a day, one needs at least a week to cover an entire constituency here due to transport challenges. The two constituencies should be left as they are."


Ms Obbo appealed to the IEBC and the government to instead consider increasing the number of constituencies in Lamu, from two to at least three, to allow better representation.

“Lamu East should be left unchanged since that’s where the Bajunis and Bonis, who have been facing marginalisation since independence, are staying with a few other leaders elected for the first time," she said.

"The IEBC should consider creating another constituency within Lamu West and name it Lamu Central for our people to get better services. That will increase the annual budgetary allocation to Lamu."

She noted that her office gets only Sh14 million from the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) and that this amount will increase to Sh21 million, "like in neighboring Tana River", if a third constituency is created."

The MPs also asked the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) to increase the county's annual allocation from Sh2.5 billion to at least Sh4 billion so it can pursue all its development goals.

Since the introduction of the devolved system of government in 2013 - by way of 47 counties - Lamu has been receiving the least annual allocation from the National Treasury.