By The-star.co.ke (CHETI PRAXIDES)
Lamu Council of Elders has formed a special team to plead for jobs at the Lapsset project on behalf of local youths.
The move follows the nearing of completion of works at the first berth at the port site. The berth will be complete by the end next month. The other two berths will be completed by next year.
Locals have been agitating for jobs, saying they should be given first priority in employment opportunities once operations start.
The elders’ special committee will meet the Lapsset board and lobby for jobs for local youths. They want the job opportunities announced to the youths before the vacancies are advertised.
The Lapsset board has already announced the first cargo ship will dock at the port by November to usher in the start of the shipping component of the project.
The Lappset project plan includes a 32-berth port, transportation hubs for rail, highway and international airports in Lamu, Isiolo and Lodwar, an oil pipeline from South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia to Lamu, an oil refinery and three resort cities in Isiolo, Lamu and Turkana.
Speaking in Lamu town on Thursday, the council of elders led by chairman Sharif Kambaa said the community wasn’t pleased with the manner in which local youths have been marginalised in terms of employment at the port.
He said it was unfair that most of those employed at the Lapsset were from outside Lamu yet locals were languishing in poverty and joblessness.
They said residents had high hopes in Lapsset and were looking at the project to provide employment.
“We know the ships will begin coming in once the berth is completed. As such, there will be more employment opportunities. Our youth have missed out for long and that’s why we are sending a special delegation to plead for the jobs on their behalf. It’s only deserving that they are given first priority,” Kambaa said.
The elders criticised the Lapsset board for failing to involve them in decisions and matters concerning the port. “We are the elders of this land and our opinion and contribution must be sought. They need our blessings when they will be opening the first berth and we look forward to working with the board in future,” Kambaa said.
Deputy chairman Mohamed Mbwana said the elders were considering legal redress if the marginalisation in terms of employment persists.
“Former president Mwai Kibaki made a pledge that we’ll be given first priority. Why are people trying to change that. We will go to court if we have to,” Mbwana said.