Civil societies: Govt should also ban Lamu coal plant to justify logging ban

Save Lamu Secretary General Walid AhmedWalid-front with a banch of mangrove seedlings. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Civil Society Organizations in Lamu have termed the government ban on mangrove logging as ill-timed and unfair as long as the push to have a coal plant established is still on.

The Save Lamu organization together with the Muslims for Human Rights –MUHURI said the government was not genuine by imposing a nationwide logging ban which meant to among other things fight environmental destruction while at the same time pushing to have a coal plant established in the region.

The ban is meant to fight environmental destruction, protect water towers and mitigate effects of the drought.

Speaking in Lamu on Thursday, Save Lamu Secretary General Walid Ahmed said for the government to prove how serious it is with protecting the environment, the plan to have a coal plant established in Lamu should immediately be trashed.

The Sh. 200 billion coal project which is under the sponsorship of Amu Power Company, a consortium of two co-sponsors, Gulf Energy and Centum Investment is set to be established at Kwasasi Village in Hindi Division.

The project is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity once complete and its implementation is part of the Government’s blueprint for producing 5,000MW of electrical power in the next 40 months.

Walid said the government was simply using the mangrove logging ban in Lamu, for instance, to oppress those dependent on the logging trade on the pretext of environmental conservation when in fact all it cares about if making money through dreadful projects like the coal plant.

“As a society, we feel the government is being selfish by banning mangrove on one hand while on the other hand pushing for the establishment of a coal plant here.The whole world knows how deadly a coal plant can be to the environment and to human health and also to marine life.If they are genuine about this call, they should prove it by forgetting about the coal plant otherwise, we take the ban as a strategy to oppress them,” said Walid.

Walid reminded of how thousands of acres of mangroves were felled to pave way for the Lapsset project, a move he says greatly affected the rainfall patterns in Lamu not to mention the humongous destruction caused to the marine environment.

The MUHURI Field Assistant Officer in Lamu Habib Ali questioned the logic behind having a mangrove logging ban in place yet at the same time insists on having an even deadlier project as the coal plant in place.

Ali said the coal plant should also be banned in as much as mangrove logging is so as to fully achieve the mandate to protect the environment.

“The tradition with mangrove logging since decades ago is that you cut one and plant several in its place and that’s what our people have been doing.That aside, if indeed the calls for environmental conservation are true then the coal plant shouldn’t even cross anybody’s minds.Its deadlier both to the environment and humans too.The ball is in the government’s court,” said Ali.

Save Lamu Chairman Mohamed Abubakar said the coal project wasn’t an environmentally sustainable one due to its destructive nature to both the environment and the health of people.

Abubakar challenged the government to consider an alternative renewable source of energy that is also environment-friendly instead of the coal plant.