Ban on vehicles in Lamu Old Town to take effect Friday

By: KALUME KAZUNGU

The Lamu County government has listed vehicles that will be allowed in the World Heritage Site starting Friday.

Only three vehicles—an ambulance, a fire engine and a municipal tractor—will be allowed in Lamu Old Town.

Only three motorcycles will remain on the island. One belonging to the county government and two others owned by the Kenya Power Company and the Lamu Water Management Authority.

The Nation also established that even government officials will not be allowed to use vehicles in the town listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Addressing journalists in Lamu on Thursday, Lamu Governor Issa Timamy said the order will be enforced to save the historical town.

Mr Timamy warned motorists against driving in the town as their vehicles will be impounded.

“I am standing by what I said. Lamu is a world Heritage site. Let us preserve the culture and serenity of this Island by removing such vehicles,” he said.

The governor’s move comes days after he was invited to a Unesco World Heritage Conference in Germany recently.

“In that conference, we were asked to ensure the culture and lifestyle of the people of Lamu is preserved,” said Mr Timamy.

Mr Timamy said even County Commissioner Fredrick Ndambuki’s vehicle will not be allowed in the town.

EMERGENCIES

The governor’s directive has been met with mixed reactions by residents.

Public service vehicles operators interviewed by the Nation on Thursday said the governor’s directive is “out dated.”

Mr Abdul Ali, a resident of Mkomani in Lamu town said he was against the move since vehicles and motorcycles have eased movement of people especially in emergency cases.

“We have people who reside far from town and these vehicles are a great help to them. Patients need to be taken to hospital fast and we can’t use donkeys,” said Mr Abdul.

Those supporting the governor’s new order praised him saying the presence of such vehicles in Lamu added to congestion in the island.

“Presence of vehicles in this island might result in accidents and deaths,” said Mr Faiz Abdulazizi.

He said there was need for visitors coming into the island to recognise and respect the unique culture.