Lamu, KENYA: Land owners at Kwasasi area in Lamu where a coal plant is to be set up have criticized the county government of Lamu for interfering with the project.
The county government of Lamu has halted the Sh. 200 billion coal project following the release of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report which county leaders felt was questionable.
The leaders said it failed to clearly state how the investors would address the drastic effects of the project to the environment and health of locals.
The Land owners however want the county government to steer clear off the project, terming the move to halt the project as solely political and one that did not represent their interests and that of the people of Lamu.
Kwasasi farmers spokesperson Abdulrahman Aboud speaking to Baraka FM on Monday, said the landowners had for the last two years surrendered their lands.
He added that they had even vacated and that all they awaited was the compensation to enable them settle elsewhere with their families.
“We know they are doing that for far lesser,selfish and individual reasons. If this goes on this people might just decide to take such a good project elsewhere and we lose out,” said Aboud.
The project by the Amu Power Company is expected to generate 1,050 MW of power upon completion.
In a letter to NEMA,the county government directed that the environment body to deny the investors the license to start the project until requirements and recommendations issued by the county are met.
The farmers now want the national government to intervene and provide a way forward on the fate of the project stating that they are more than willing to throw their weight behind it.
“We support the project and whoever is trying to use excuses to stop or delay it should stop. The county government hasn’t consulted us and should therefore stop saying they oppose the project because they care for us.” Added Aboud.
The farmers said they had already taken huge bank loans in the hope that will be able to repay once they are compensated for their lands.
“Two years have gone by without us using our lands. That means no farming took place for us.we have basically been surviving on bank loans knowing that we will be compensated then pay back the banks.” Said Kassim Omar.
The farmers had proposed for a Sh.1.5 Million per acre compensation and that the constant frustrations by the county government might make that impossible.
The farmers acknowledged having taken loans of between Sh.300,000 to 1 Million.
Over 600 land owners have since vacated the 975 acre piece of land site where the project is to be set up.