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Villagers ask Uhuru to help unlock Lamu Wind Power Project stalemate

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Villagers ask Uhuru to help unlock Lamu Wind Power Project stalemate by Kenyans247(1): Fri 06, November, 2020 02:53am
Villagers in Baharini Village in Lamu West, where a Sh21 billion wind power plant is set to be put up, now want the national government to intervene and unlock the existing stalemate.
kenyans247
In July this year, members of the Lamu County Assembly voted to nullify the wind power plant, citing failure by the investor to settle the affected persons, among other conditions.

The project is under the Baharini Wind Power, a consortium of Elicio Company, which is a Belgium firm, in coordination with a Kenyan firm -- Kenwind Holdings Limited Company.

A total of 3,206 acres of land were set aside a long time ago for the establishment of the project at Baharini area.

Speaking to journalists Thursday, the villagers, particularly those directly affected by the project after their plots were taken for its establishment, pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and give the way forward on the fate of the project.


Baharini Farmers Association spokesperson Linus Gachoki said the county assembly's move to reject the project was uncalled-for as farmers had banked their hopes on the project to end their suffering.

According to Mr Gachoki, a section of the landowners had already made local arrangements to borrow loans from banks with the expectation that they would be compensated for their land and clear the loans.

He said every farmer has been left in the dark since the Lamu County Assembly rejected the project about four months ago.

"Instead of seeking legal redress on the matter, we've decided to push for the national government's intervention to end this standoff. We're more than confident with President Kenyatta. We're appealing to him to provide a way forward on this. The farmers here welcome the project and that's why we gave our land to pave way for its establishment. We don't understand why our MCAs rushed to nullify the project," said Mr Gachoki.

Joseph Mwangi, another affected person in Baharini, said apart from the anticipated compensation, the project investor also had many good plans for the locals.

As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility, the investor had planned to set aside about a Sh40 million trust fund kitty to assist the less fortunate in the community.

"The plan was that the kitty is used to build schools or dispensaries for us or pay fees for our students from Baharini community. The project had really good plans for the locals. We need it and that's why we're pleading with the President to come and help us resolve this stalemate," said Mr Mwangi.

Mary Kimani asked why the MCAs decided to reject the project without consulting the landowners first.

Mrs Kimani said they did not have any issue with the investor as due procedures were being followed in the establishment of the project in their village.

In February this year, Kenya Power signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Baharini Wind Power Company, a deal which signified the project's viability in the area.


On March 7 this year, the Court of Appeal in Mombasa had also given the go-ahead for the investor to continue with the plan to establish the project after dismissing an appeal by a US-based company, Cordison International, arguing that it lacked merit in their demand to be allowed to establish the project in Baharini.

Mrs Kimani said that after the project cleared all the hurdles, they felt delighted as the only remaining stage was the implementation of the Resettlement Action Plan and subsequent compensation.

"We were hopeful of getting our long-awaited compensation. We had waited for compensation for almost a decade. What the MCAs did is purely selfish. They just woke up and nullified the project. We're now stranded. We don't know whether we will be compensated, neither do we know whether the project will proceed. Something urgent needs to be done," said Mrs Kimani.

The initial project plan includes up to 38 turbines and 90MW capacity to be installed within the 3,206-acre land in Baharini Village, which is located about 40km from the new Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project in Kililana.

The Wind Power Project establishment in Lamu is also anticipated to bring about improved road infrastructure and subsequently improve the security situation in a region that has previously witnessed attacks, ambushes and killings orchestrated by al-Shabaab terrorists from neighbouring Somalia.

skazungu@ke.nationmedia.com
https://nation.africa/kenya/counties/lamu/villagers-ask-uhuru-to-help-unlock-lamu-wind-power-project-stalemate-2731842

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