20 October 2018

Kenya: Plastic Boat Builder Ali Skanda Set for Recognition

When Kenyans honour their heroes today, 45-year-old Ali Skanda will be among those to be feted at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County.

Mr Skanda together with his team of traditional dhow-building experts put Lamu on the world map when they built the world's first boat made from recycled marine plastic.

The boat is aptly named the Flip-flopi because it was built using thousands of flip-flops and ocean plastic waste collected during beach clean-ups along the Kenyan Coast.

Launched on a day when the world was celebrating World's Beach Clean-up Day, the boat now serves to reinforce the need for people to maintain cleanliness in beaches.

Mr Skanda, who was born in Mkomani, Lamu Old Town, could not imagine that his unique invention first unveiled on September 15 would make him one of the celebrated heroes in this year's Mashujaa Day.

BAN

His invention reinforces the need for Kenyans to adhere to the already existing plastic ban safeguard the quality of life.

Kenya introduced a nationwide ban on plastic bags use on August 28, 2017.

"I received a phone call from someone telling me that I was among the recognised mashujaas to be in attendance at Bukhungu Stadium. He confirmed to me that my journey to and from had already been catered for. All this is because of the flip-flopi boat we made and launched in September. I am happy and humbled," the father father of five said.

"I'll use this opportunity to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta. I want to discuss with him various issues that will enable our country to be free of plastics. We want a clean environment," he added.

Residents interviewed by Saturday Nation in Lamu said they also recognise Mr Skanda as a hero.

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Mr Fauz Osman said Lamu has been highlighted negatively for many years due to insecurity caused by Al-Shabaab.

But he noted that through Mr Skanda's invention, many people are now looking at Lamu as among the places with great innovative minds.

"Through Skanda, Lamu was and is still being highlighted positively. His innovation was covered by almost all media houses, including the international ones. That alone has changed the image of Lamu. Every tourist now wants to come to Lamu just to see the flip-flopi and the boat builders. Truly, Skanda is a Shujaa," he said.

Mrs Farida Athman said she was happy that Mr Skanda's effort has been recognised by being identified as a hero.

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