June 24th 2017

Society / Environment

Lamu civic groups accuse Energy Commission of working in cahoots with Amu Power

“To make the above decision, the Commission claims to have held a public hearing in Lamu to hear the community’s complaints. While the ERC sent commissioners to Lamu on 6th December to hear Save Lamu’s objections, Save Lamu insists that a fair hearing was not given,” he said.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 02 Apr 2017 12:48 EAT

Lamu Old Town.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has not granted a license to Amu Power for the proposed 1,050MW coal power plant in Lamu County, according to a community-led lobby group championing the interests of local people. The group, Save Lamu, said that the ERC published a response to its (Save Lamu’s) objection to the issuance of a license to Amu Power, but that the regulator had not issued a license to the company as the media reported last week.

The dismissal, which was published in the Kenya Gazette notice no. 1256 of 24 February, refuted Save Lamu’s objection on the basis that: one, the communities affected by the project do not object to the license; two, that all economic, environmental and social issues have been addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and, lastly, that Kenya needs coal power. 

“However, the ERC are still deliberating and a decision has yet to be made on the granting of the electricity generation license,” Save Lamu said in a statement to the Kenya Free Press by Mr Omar Mohammed, the group’s National Liaison Officer, who said the group is challenging the ERC decision.

“To make the above decision, the Commission claims to have held a public hearing in Lamu to hear the community’s complaints. While the ERC sent commissioners to Lamu on 6th December to hear Save Lamu’s objections, Save Lamu insists that a fair hearing was not given,” he said.

Mr Omar said that the hearing was to be held in Lamu town with members of Save Lamu and representatives of Amu Power, but on the eve of the hearing, the ERC changed the venue and moved the hearing to the proposed coal plant site.

“The drastic change of venue gave inadequate time for complainants to mobilize. Furthermore, the site is 20 kilometers away from Lamu, in an area inaccessible to most community members, especially affected fishermen. To access the area, members would have to use boat and boda boda at a cost of Sh3,500 per person,” he said.

He said that as a result of the changes, "the only participants able to attend the hearing were the ERC, Amu Power representatives and landowners, who have a conflict of interest in the matter, as they will be receiving compensation for their land. Fishermen, tourism operators, and other project affected persons were excluded".

Save Lamu then sent a letter to the ERC requesting them to hold another hearing in a more accessible location, where the majority of affected people would be able to attend. The ERC never replied, but on 24 February it published a gazette notice discounting Save Lamu’s objections, "without holding a fair public hearing, and intentionally excluding those opposed to the project," according to the group.

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