Lamu, KENYA: The woes facing the intended establishment of the Sh.200 Billion coal plant set to be put up at Kwasasi area in Lamu are far from over after landowners who had their lands acquired for the project disagreed with the national government over the mode of compensation.
The coal plant project is being undertaken by the Amu Power company, a consortium of Gulf Energy and Centum Investment.
A total of 975 acres of land have already been acquired upfront for the establishment of the project which is poised to generate about 1,050 megawatts of power once ready and functional.
A recent move by the LAPSSET authority which is the acquiring body for the lands on behalf of government to write to the National Lands Commission-NLC advising the commission to apply the Land Compensation Approach as a suitable method of compensation for the affected landowners has drawn condemnation and disgruntlement in equal measures as locals say there could be plans to dupe them of their rightful compensation.
The initial agreement between the farmers and the investor had been for the landowners to be accorded monetary compensation with the NLC even determining that an acre of land was to be compensated at Sh.800,000.
However speaking in Lamu on Wednesday, through their appointed spokesperson Abdulrahman Aboud, the over 600 landowners said they don’t understand why last minute plans were secretly being made to alter the initial compensation plan.
Aboud said they would not accept anything less than monetary compensation for their lands failure to which they would demand to be given their lands back.
“The issue of the mode of compensation shouldn’t even be an issue because we had long settled it years back and the NLC even came and told us what an acre would be paid for in the compensation. We signed agreements to that effect. We are shocked that they are actually now derailing from that and are planning to give us alternative land as compensation. That wasn’t the agreement and as such, it won’t happen,”said Aboud.
He said the government had no legal authority to twist or change a written agreement without consulting all affected parties unless of course there were plans to dupe.
“This is a warning to the NLC, the LAPSSET and whoever else is involved that there plan will not work. The initial agreement borrowed heavily from the Resettlement Action Plan and that’s how it stays of we get our lands back. We can’t keep going back and forth on an issue so obvious. We are waiting for cash, no less, no more,” added Aboud.
The landowners questioned where exactly the government planned to resettle them considering that most idle lands in Lamu had been invaded by the ever-growing squatter population.
“Where do they plan to resettle us because as it is, only the Boni forest and surrounding areas have no people. But if the government feels there is alternative land, let them give us back our lands and then go set up the coal plant on that alternative land,” said Sobana Idarus, a landowner at Kwasasi.
When contacted for comment on the matter, the LAPSSET Director General Sylvestre Kasuku simply texted back “I am currently in a meeting in China. Wait until I come back. There is nothing burning.