Capital FM (Nairobi)

5 August 2014

Kenya: Port Authority Yet to Release LAPSSET Payment Funds

Nairobi — The National Land Commission says the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has not paid anybody compensation for land acquired by the government towards the construction of the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project.

The commission Chief Executive Officer Tom Chavagi told the National Assembly Committee on Transport, Housing and Public Works that KPA is yet to set up a Compensation Fund which will be used to pay farmers who had refused to move from the land until they get reimbursement.

The commission said the compensation affects 83 parcel owners in Hindi-Magogoni (21) and Kililani (62).

"So far we have not received the funds from the LAPSSET Corridor in terms of payment of the purchase money. The acquiring agency deposits the funds into our accounts so that we can compensate these individuals; that has not been done as of today."

The House team is probing the matter after Lamu East MP Shariff Ali requested a statement from the commission in February. His request for a statement came after Lamu residents who were being evicted to pave way for the new port project held demonstrations to ask the government to speed up compensation.

The Lands Commission conducted a verification drive which will lead to 140 families being compensated.

Chavagi could not confirm whether the parcels were part of the controversial 22 titles whose revocation was ordered last week by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The government announced that Sh1 billion has been set aside for the families' compensation while the Kenya Ports Authority assured that residents with land in the affected areas will get Sh1.5 million per acre, as compensation.

The Kenya Ports Authority last week signed a Sh42 billion contract with a Chinese firm for the construction of the first three berths in Lamu.

The House Committee chairman Maina Kamanda has however wondered why the ports authority proceeded with the ceremony before securing the titles for the land.

"How could he have signed an agreement with the contractor yet the land had not been released to the government?" Kamanda asked.

Chavagi said in response; "Some of these things are done without our knowledge. The Constitution says before these contracts are signed, the funds must be deposited into our account because the payment must be full and prompt to all the affected individuals."

The KPA Managing Director, LAPPSET Corridor Development Authority Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Government Lands Valuer are to appear before the House team next Tuesday.

The construction of the Lamu Port in Kenya was officially launched by former President Mwai Kibaki, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and Ethiopia's former Prime Minister the late Meles Zenawi.

The port is expected to act as the main gateway to Africa's Great Lakes region that includes the Horn of Africa, eastern Africa and Central Africa.

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