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Kenya: Locals petition parliament to stop coal mining due to environmental, livelihood & health concerns

“Residents in new push to stop Kitui coal mining plan”

The proposed coal mining project in the Mui basin in Kitui County is now in limbo after residents petitioned Parliament seeking to have it stopped. In a strong-worded petition to the National Assembly Energy Committee, the residents say if allowed to continue, the project would have adverse effects on their lives. This is not the first time the locals are voicing their opposition to the project that has been dogged by controversy, including claims of lack of public participation.

The basin has coal deposits with an estimated value of Sh3.4 trillion whose discovery was seen as a major breakthrough in making Kenya an industrial hub like Germany and other European powerhouses. But the project has stalled for years now since the award of a mining licence to Chinese firm, Fenxi Industry Mining Company, in December 2013 due to politicisation. As part of the project, there was also a proposal to set up a coal power plant in Mui that would produce 1000 megawatts of electricity to be connected to the national grid. But following recent attempts to revive the project, residents have renewed their push to have the project stopped, saying it would have irrevocably damaging effects to their health and the environment.