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23 May 2017

Daniel Wesangula, Standard Digital (Kenya)

Kenya: Locals express health concerns over proposed AmuPower coal plant to govt.; company claims it will be safe

Lamu Coal: A much needed energy boost or cancer causing project?”

…Mohammed Athman, 51, adjusts himself…[as] lawyers flip through pages from mountains of submissions tabled before them. Athman believes the proceedings are key to determining whether his home, as he knows, will remain the same or forever be changed. To his right, sat five individuals, all of them members of the National Environmental Tribunal that flew in…to listen to the people of Lamu over the establishment of a 1,050MW coal plant, by private company Amu Power, in the county.  Amu Power is backed by a consortium that includes East Africa’s leading investment company Centum Investments and a group of Chinese companies. Work on the plant, that will take an estimated 30 months to build, was due to start in December 2015, but Kenya’s energy industry regulator delayed issuing a licence due to environmental concerns…

“This is not about me. It is about my grandchildren and their grandchildren. What will we leave behind for them?”...The basis of the case against Amu Power is the environmental impact that the coal plant, if set up, will have on the Lamu ecosystem...The projects, the report continues, have the potential of not only marginalising the community but totally disrupting a traditional lifestyle developed and nurtured over millennia. A part of this heritage is the fishing culture of the islanders…Save Lamu says residents of the islands were never consulted. And that the report did not reveal most of the dangers that would affect life on the island. Nema have stood by their report insisting that every legal and logical step was followed in its drafting.

 Amu Power says the chimney will be the equivalent of 70 storeys, effectively being the tallest building in Kenya…Sobana Aidarus sees no evil in the project. He says it is timely and will positively impact on the economic well-being of the county.