Lamu farmers want land for Sh200bn coal plant returned


The coal-fired power plant site in Lamu County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Owners of land earmarked for the establishment of the Sh200 billion coal-fired power plant in Lamu County now want their property back.

A total of 975 acres of land had in 2016 been acquired at Kwasasi Village in Hindi Division for the project being undertaken by Amu Power Company, a consortium of Gulf Energy and Centum Investment.

The coal plant project is poised to generate 1,050 megawatts of power on completion.

Landowners expressed disappointment over the silence by the investor and the government on the project.

Kwasasi Farmers Association chairman Hussein Fadhil said they no longer had faith in the investor and doubted the project would ever take off.

An earlier National Land Commission review revealed that each landowner would get Sh800,000 per acre as compensation for the land.

However, Mr Fadhil faulted the government and the investor for not being forthcoming with information regarding their compensation. He accused the investor of taking the landowners in circles.

He said the farmers could not sustain themselves since they surrendered their land five years ago.

“We’re wondering why the government and the investor are not pitying the farmers who are living in squalor after giving up land for the project.

“We’ve lost a lot that can’t be compensated in any way at the moment. So what we’re agitating is for the government to give back our land and title deeds. We’ve lost faith in the project and the investor,” said Mar Fadhil.

Mohamed Omar, one of the farmers affected, said they have a right to know the status of the project to decide what to do with their land and move on with their lives.

“Some of us have no alternative land. So when we were told that our land had been earmarked for the project we just moved and rented homes

“They said compensation would follow soon after but now it’s been five years and counting. No one is saying anything, not the government or the investor.

“We need to know how much longer we should wait and decide whether we will or won’t. Our life has stalled because of this,” he said.

Kwasasi Farmers Association secretary-general Abdulrahman Aboud urged the Lamu County Assembly to summon the investor to shed light on the fate of the project.

“Recently, the assembly nullified a Sh21 billion wind power project which had been approved in 2015. The same assembly approved the coal plant. I, therefore, urge our MCAs to summon the investor to clear the air on the fate of the project,” he said.