Why Lamu youths are a worried lot ahead of port opening
Youths who applied for dock workers' positions at the new Lamu port say they are in the dark even as preparations to operationalise the port continue.
Last week, various shipping equipment was delivered at the port site in Kililana, Lamu West ready for the port opening in June this year.
This means the port will start receiving and shipping out goods from the various shipping lines across the globe in the same month.
Speaking in Lamu Town on Monday, the youths, however, expressed concern that the dock workers vacancies might end up being filled by outsiders.
About 100 Lamu Port dock workers positions were advertised with more than 1,000 youths already having applied to fill the vacancies.
Led by their spokesperson Ahmed Omar, the local youths said they hope that they will benefit from the Lamu port jobs as promised by the government.
Mr Omar accused the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Lapsset management of marginalising Lamu youth when employing staff for the various departments at the port.
“Many of us have applied for the dock workers jobs but we haven’t been contacted or updated about anything. We have on several occasions witnessed jobs at the Lamu Port being given to youth from other counties. We urge the government to ensure a huge percentage of those to be employed as dock workers at the Lamu Port are local youths,” said Mr Omar.
Kenga Kahindi, a resident of Maisha Masha in Witu, alleged that casual jobs during the construction phase were given to outsiders.
Save Lamu Organization chairman Mohamed Athman said local youths should be given top consideration during employment at the new Lamu Port.
“We are seeking reassurance from those concerned that the Lamu people will not be short-changed during employment before the port opens in June. They should also consider setting aside a certain percentage of the proceeds from the port to go directly to the county and the local community,” said Mr Athman.
But in response, KPA head of corporate affairs Bernard Osero confirmed that about 100 youths had already been interviewed for the Lamu Port dock workers jobs and issued appointment letters.
He said local youths were prioritised during the shortlisting and interviews.
Mr Osero said, currently, the 100 successful candidates are undergoing orientation in Mombasa before being deployed to Lamu Port once it commences operation in June.
“We ensured local youths are given priority though we still had to take a few from Mombasa to help in terms of job training and orientation. The entire exercise was carried out in a transparent manner,” said Mr Osero.