International vessels and local dhows warned of grave danger lurking in Lamu’s deep waters

It is the first time a pontoon has detached itself from a jetty in Lamu where 99 per cent of movement and transport is done at sea.

  • Kenya Maritime Authority has issued a warning to the public to be on the watch out for a floating pontoon which detached from Mtangawanda Jetty in Lamu East five days ago and is yet to be recovered.
  • However, even as the search continues, Lamu sailors, fishermen and the public have accused the government of laxity in renovating the Mtangawanda Jetty which has been neglected for years.

Kenya Maritime Authority has issued a warning to the public to be on the watch out for a floating pontoon which detached from Mtangawanda Jetty in Lamu East five days ago and is yet to be recovered.

“The KMA wishes to bring to the attention of Lamu archipelago water transport service providers and users, the fishing community and the public that the Mtangawanda Jetty pontoon which detached from its piles in the evening of August 10 has not yet been located. The search is still on. We, therefore, request all to notify our offices of its location when it is sighted. We further continue to urge all vessels operating in the area and along the coastal waters to be wary of the danger to safe navigation posed by the pontoon. We look forward to your continued cooperation,” said KMA Director-General George Macgoye.

Until recovered, the detached pontoon poses grave danger to vessels and local dhows as it can easily damage them causing them to sink and with it valuable goods and worse loss of lives.

The authority has roped in the assistance of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor contractor’s tug boat, the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), the Maritime Police, and Rural Border Patrol Unit in the search for the detached pontoon.

“With assistance from the Lamu port contractor's tug boat, KPA, the Maritime Police and Rural Border Patrol Unit the search for the pontoon is in progress. We shall advise further on the success of the search efforts and subsequent retrieval of the pontoon,”

It is the first time a pontoon has detached itself from a jetty in Lamu where 99 per cent of movement and transport by Lamu residents is done at sea.

However, even as the search continues, Lamu sailors, fishermen and the public have accused the government of laxity in renovating the Mtangawanda Jetty which has been neglected for years.

I am trying to imagine if these jetties were in some other part of Kenya, the government would have ensured they are up to date but because this is Lamu, a county that has never really mattered, we have to reach a point where a pontoon not only detaches but also disappears at sea,” said Khaldun Vae,an elder from Kizingitini,Lamu East.

The locals claim the situation is proof enough that the government continues to marginalise the region in terms of infrastructural development.

“I don’t think its right for the government to leave our jetty in such a condition. It is posing danger to users. We are sad that a pontoon is left until it detaches from a jetty that serves hundreds of locals daily. We need urgent intervention on this,”  Mr. Vae added.

As a result, boat operators and travellers in Mtangawanda have been forced to shut down a section of the jetty hampering their businesses.

Last month the government announced it would be pumping Sh130 million ($13 billion) for the renovation and restoration of four key jetties in the county which are currently structurally unsound.

Jetties in Lamu play a very important role since they are the only entry and exit points to the Kenyan historic town and other adjacent islands.

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