Residents of Lamu will wait longer before they know whether or not the government will lift a ban imposed on mangrove logging.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on Monday told the National Assembly Committee on Environment and Natural Resources that he needs a month to consult before making a decision.
In February, the government banned logging in public and community forests for 90 days.
Tobiko extended the ban for six months in May so that a new Kenya Forest Service board is appointed and the interim reform implementations committee to be finalized.
However, communities that rely on forests for a livelihood have been hit hard. In Lamu, leaders among the Woman Representative Ruweida Mohamed Obo want the decision rescinded.
The Environment committee asked Tobiko to consider lifting the ban especially for poor communities that depend on mangrove at the Coast.
Lamu, Pate, Manda, and Kiwayu islands are surrounded by mangrove forests. The mangroves provide a conducive environment for fish to breed.
Tobiko told the Kareke Mbiuki-led committee that there has been huge degradation of mangrove within Lamu.
“The environment is the bedrock of the government’s Big Four agenda. We need to have a common position,” he said.
North Horr MP Francis Chachu said the government should have been lenient in areas where mangrove was being used sustainably.
“Some residents who use mangrove are very poor,” Chachu said.
Ijara MP Sophia Noor said in some areas the situation is so bad ” people are so poor they can no longer afford even a cup of tea”.
Noor, who is the deputy chair to the committee, said mangroves worth millions of shillings that had been harvested prior to the ban were wasting away.
“We plead with you to look into the Lamu situation, they are poor and vulnerable,” Noor told Tobiko.
Charles Were (Kasipul) urged Tobiko to visit Lamu on a fact-finding mission.
Kareke told Tobiko that “life in Lamu has come to a standstill” following the ban. Tobiko has a month to report back to the committee.