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Residents urged to prepare for Lamu port jobs

10 July 2013, 16:07 Bob Ndwiga

Scholars in Lamu County have been challenged to unite for launch of scholarships and programs to improve education in the County in a bid to ensure that the locals benefit from the profits of the Lamu Port once it is finally completed.

“Unless scholars come together and launch ruthless campaigns to elevate education standards by initiating new schools, colleges and even universities in the highly potential county, the region will continue to be a net importer of labour from other parts of the country.

Talking to the Press in Malindi during a forum with boat builders who intend to launch a project for modern engine fiber glass fishing vessels, Pate island businessman Kassim Omar Mpate said youth from Lamu were disadvantaged due to poor education standards in the County.

The businessman wondered why the program for training of young people in Lamu to gain port- services related skills, as ordered by the retired President Mwai  Kibaki when he launched the Lamu Port project, had not taken off.

Mpate said Lamu professionals had a major challenge to return home and work closely with the new county government leadership which he claimed was presently dominated by politicians and not professionals.

He said that with the Port coming up, there is need for the central and county governments to come up with education and training programs specifically targeting the young people of Lamu who are in need of skills to work in different departments of the port.

“How come the professionals from Lamu County have remained a way leaving the management of the region to a few politicians who may not be skilled enough to see the future economic potential of the upcoming port?” posed Mpate.

He wondered whether the professionals wanted to wait until the job openings at the port are filled by skilled people from other parts of Coast and Kenya so as to start complaining that the jobs had been taken over by “foreigners”.

Lamu people, he said, needed to wake up and take their children to local and international schools, colleges and universities since huge and lucrative employment openings and business opportunities were on the way.

The county, he lamented, could not even produce 100 clerks to serve at the port if such openings were immediately announced.

The County, he said. has a history of more than 600 years participation in education and commerce and  it was unfortunate that successive governments right from the colonial times have  killed sea port related commerce.

Mpate wondered why the government decided to kill the port of Lamu formerly operating at the Shella Beach in the Lamu Island yet the area would host huge ships carrying merchandise from India and Arabic countries in a commercial network which made the region more vibrant than Mombasa ports.

The centuries old sea-propelled commerce, he said, had the potential to be revived if the county had professionals who would use the wide coastline to establish trade with the international world without being curtailed or controlled by the central government.

Lamu County, he said, should independently market its history and expand its potential for tourism through training of its own professionals to manage the future establishments in the region.

Commercial fishing, Mpate urged, should be revived with the fish packing plants that collapsed less than 10 years ago being revived.

He also noted that with proper environmental management, the government should allow the people of Lamu to resume their mangrove poles export trade. The export, he said, was banned irregularly after environmentalists insisted that mangrove trees were endangered yet the harvest of the trees had always been controlled and environmentally friendly.

Scientists, he said, had campaigned to have the harvest and export of mangrove poles banned without first consulting those involved in the trade.

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