Job losses as firms halt operations over terror attacks at Kenyan coast

Sunday January 12 2020

Workers at the new Lamu port site in Kililana, Lamu West. At least 2,000 casual labourers working at the Lapsset site in Kililana in Lamu West have been sent home due to security concerns. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


As hoteliers at the Kenyan coast remain upbeat and have not reported any cancellations, the recent surge of deadly al Shabaab attacks in Lamu county in the northern Coast of Kenya is a cause for concern for public and private enterprises.

Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers executive officer Sam Ikwaye said they have beefed up security with more police deployed to hotels.

The al Shabaab attack on Simba Camp at Manda Bay Airfield used by the US military, has however, affected normal business operations in the region.

A number of contractors working in various projects linked to the $25 billion Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset) have suspended their operations until further notice. The ongoing project includes the construction of the first three berths of Lamu port which is 70 per cent complete, construction of Minjila-Mokowe highway, ongoing environmental impact assessment for Kenya crude oil Pipeline from Lokichar–Lamu are among the projects which have been suspended their operations.

At least 2,000 casual labourers working at the Lapsset site in Kililana in Lamu West have been sent home after the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the main contractor, issued a notice suspending all activities at the port over safety concerns.

The main site at Kililana's Lamu port is located about a kilometre away from Manda-Magogoni Naval Base, which was attacked.


In a statement by CCCC management to all staff, and seen by The EastAfrican, the management cited the security threat arising from the terror incident, and said it would resume once the situation returns to normalcy.

“At present, the situation in Lamu County is still very serious. To ensure the personal safety of all employees, we have to suspend all works and close the site.

“Please all employees leave the site and go home immediately and wait for the notice to reopen the site,” reads the statement from the human resource officer in charge of CCCC Lamu Port Berth 1-3 project.

Lapsset regional manager Salim Bunu and Kenya Ports Authority senior superintendent in charge of Lamu Jetty, Abdishukri Osman while confirming that casual labourers at the Lapsset site were sent home after the contractor decided to suspend work at the site, also said they were working to provide adequate security for the operations to resume.

“We will be meeting the contractor today (Wednesday) to discuss when work can resume,” said Mr Bunu.

Kenya Inspector General of police Hilary Mutyambai and Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia, separately, assured residents of their security.

“The situation has been contained. Lamu is now safe. “We have deployed enough security agencies across Lamu and we are heading to Boni forest to assess the situation and we urged the local to remain alert and volunteer any information to the police on any suspicious activity,” said Mr Macharia.

Since the Lapsset project was launched in 2012, a special security unit was deployed to protect workers in various sites. Five years ago, a number of contractors suspended their operations for fear of being attacked by the Somalia-based militia but resumed after more Kenya Defence Forces officers were deployed in the area.