CONSERVATION EFFORTS UNDERMINED

Lapsset project blamed for destruction of Lamu monuments

The Pate ruins in Lamu East have been worst hit by grabbing, encroachment and human settlement

In Summary

• The National Museums of Kenya says Lapsset is a threat to the historical sites

• Adds that the remoteness of some monuments and sites is the biggest hurdle they face in their monitoring work

The Lapsset project is a threat to key archeological sites and monuments in Lamu county, the National Museums of Kenya has said.

 

It said on Thursday that many monuments and sites are in bad shape, a situation he blamed on Lapsset construction works.

 

The assistant director in charge of sites and monuments at the Coast, Athman Hussein, said the remoteness of some monuments and sites is the biggest hurdle they face in their monitoring work.

He said the sites are specifically targetted by private developers, despite their efforts to have them protected.

The Pate ruins in Lamu East have been worst hit by grabbing, encroachment and human settlement. Takwa, Shanga, Manda and Siyu ruins have been left in a shambles by farmers.

He said the NMK has obtained funds for preservation and protection initiatives targetting endangered sites and monuments in Lamu. Hussein, however, appealed for more funds from the government and other partners to enable them to fence the parcels and keep grabbers at bay.

“No single site or monument has a title deed, despite the numerous surveys conducted. The National Land Commission needs to ensure that happens before we lose all the sites to grabbers and developers.”

Of Kenya's 47 counties, Lamu is the richest in terms of archeological sites and monuments. But its massive squatter population hasn’t helped matters. The landless encroach and settle on the land.

 

Principal curator Mohamed Mwenje, who is in charge of Lamu fort museums, sites and monuments, said encroachment has hampered conservation and preservation efforts.

In Pate, for instance, those who guard the sites have previously been met with hostility from residents who stake a claim to the ruins.

“Some of these communities claim the ruins are part of their ancestral heritage and, as such, they feel they have more rights to them than us. That makes things hard for us,” Mwenje said.

He said only title deeds will guarantee the protection of the sites.

In 2015, the NMK said it would ensure all historical sites had land titles. Director general Mzalendo Kibunjia made the promise after visiting 11 historical sites in Lamu. The sites were used as prisons for the Mau Mau fighters. Four years and counting, nothing has been done.

(Edited by F'orieny)