December 18th 2017

Society / Environment

Environmental dangers outweigh 1,050 Megawatt Coal Power Plant in Lamu

The residents also claimed that the project proponents have not met minimal requirements to inform and hold public participation fora with the affected communities, while they have been subject to intimidation and interference when trying to hold community discussions about the project.

By Julliet Mwihakijmwihaki@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 21 Jul 2017 10:45 EAT

Residents hold placards as they march in a protest against Kenyan government plans to build East Africa's first coal plant near the coastal town of Lamu last year.

Plans are underway to develop the Lamu Coal Plant to a power generating venture as the government puts in place mitigation measures to reduce the cost of electricity. The 1,050 Megawatt coal power plant in Kwasi, Lamu County has been proposed as the site to be implemented by the government in conjunction with a private partner.

However concerns have been raised over its environmental threats to the residents when it’s fully operational.

On Friday last week a public forum was held at Laico Regency in Nairobi where participants were introduced to the project and measures laid outlining how it would be implemented.

The forum was attended by Lamu Women Representative Shakila Abdalla, a Climate Change and Sustainable Development Expert Pro.Nick King, Prof. Peter Orris Chief of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois Hospital, Board Member of Save Lamu Raya Famau and former Chairman of Energy Regulatory Commission Mr Hindpal Jabbal.

If the project comes to pass then, the continued power rationing which began in the year 2000 coupled with the high cost of electricity will be something of the past. Energy security and its affordability will also be addressed.

The challenge to the government is to ensure that the project if fully implemented as a sure way of providing affordable energy to its citizens whilst also seeking the most sustainable means of doing so.

Kwasi area in Lamu County which has been identified as the site for the proposed Coal Plant is known for its incredible rich environment and cultural heritage. It has been argued that the project will lead to foster development especially in already marginalized area. The speakers at the forum however spoke on the climate change implications bearing in mind the recent drought experienced in the country.

The forum was also meant to create awareness to the public on the implications of the construction of the Coal Plant. According to the speakers there is need to put Environment Assessment measures as the plant will not only cause irreversible environmental and social harm to the region. They said it may also cause the price of electricity in Kenya to increase and this becomes a burden for the Kenyans. In addition to this the burning coal may cause harm to the residents in Lamu County in terms of health and livelihoods.

The residents also claimed that the project proponents have not met minimal requirements to inform and hold public participation fora with the affected communities, while they have been subject to intimidation and interference when trying to hold community discussions about the project. There have further been false allegations by the County Commissioner regarding the purpose of such informative meetings and the intentions of those  organizing them.

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