Lamu elders divided over Sh.200B coal plant

Lamu residents protest against the proposed coal firm in the past PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu, KENYA: The Lamu Council of Elders is divided on their support of the establishment of a Sh.200 Billion coal-fired power plant in the region.

The plant is a project by Amu Power, a consortium of Gulf Energy and Centum Investment is set to be established at Kwasasi Village in Lamu West.

So far a total of 975 acres of land have already been set aside at Kwasasi for the establishment of the project which is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of power upon completion.

The project has received immense criticism from a section of leaders and activists in the region who insist that such a project is more hazardous than it is beneficial.

Some of the leaders and activists have even accused the national government of trying to force the project down the throats of Lamu people despite rejection by the majority.

However speaking an event in Lamu town on Monday, the council of elders whose voice is considered key in the making of major decisions in the region, was visibly divided as each one pulled in their own direction.

The council chairperson Sharif Salim, for instance, said he believed that with proper mitigations, any possible negative effects of the coal plant can effectively and promptly be addressed.

Salim said he was convinced by both the government and investor who have given an assurance that the coal project will employ the use of advanced technology which is safe and non-hazardous.

“At this point, I can’t confidently say whether or not I support the project but I believe the government and investor when they say with advanced technology, the project will be safe. I also believe that with proper mitigations, such a project can effectively deal with any downside. At this juncture, we are waiting on the government and investor to see whether or not they keep their word then we can decide where our support lies,” said Salim.

Elder Said Mzee wondered why there was so much noise around the establishment of the coal plant considering Lamu will not be the first to have a project set up.

“Germany and USA have done this before and it worked. The same technology employed is the one being brought down here. Why can’t we wait and see first before we reject something that could possibly change our lives for the better. As long as someone hasn’t proved otherwise, my support for the project is intact,we need it,” said Mzee.

However, elder Waladi Mhaji, a former councilor in the region rebuked his fellow elders for going with the wind and supporting a project that has the capacity to kills dozens and inflict illnesses among members of the public.

Mhaji says a similar project was rejected in Kitui county and wondered why Lamu has to be the landing site for rejected projects.

He urged fellow elders, leaders, and locals to speak in one voice and denounce the coal project which he said shall drastically and negatively impact on their lives for generations to come.

“The problem is everybody only talks about what they feel is good about the project. Nobody is willing to say the truly ugly side of such a project and it’s just unfortunate that our elders and leaders and so blinded by the economic gain that they are not willing to think much of that. We must reject this project while we still can, its no good and we all know that. Our generations will simply inherit illnesses and a myriad of other challenges and no one will do anything about it,” said Mhaji.

Elder Mohamed Abubakar called upon his fellow elders to be custodians of sanity and wellness as opposed to being blinded by money.

“We have a duty to guard against what is not good for our people and this project is among the worst things that can be allowed to take root on this soil,” said Abubakar.