NLC, county entangled in foreign firms' dispute over Sh21b Lamu wind power

NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
NLC chairman Muhammad Swazuri. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The National Land Commission (NLC) and Lamu County government are entangled in a row involving two foreign firms over possession of land for a Sh21-billion wind power project in Mpeketoni.

The High Court in Malindi on Monday directed the NLC and the county government to file submissions over the 11,000-acre land dispute.

Justice James Olola also directed the two rival wind energy companies in the dispute -- Cordisons International Ltd and Kenwind Holdings Ltd -- to file written submissions within 14 days.

Cordisons International Ltd, An American company, last October moved to compel the NLC and its chairman Muhammad Swazuri to issue it with lease documents to put up the wind energy project on the land, as directed by the Lamu County government.

The NLC had quashed Cordisons Ltd's lease documents, and cleared Kenwind Ltd, a Belgium energy company, to proceed with the energy project.

In a replying affidavit, the NLC stated that Cordisons International Ltd did not meet the legal requirements to be awarded the lease for 11,000 acres, despite efforts to invest in the land since November 2009.

Quash development plans

In addition, Cordisons International Ltd, which enjoys support of the County government of Lamu, has also asked the court to quash development plans published in gazette notices on the disputed land.

“We pray for orders to quash part of the development plan dated July 26, 2016 and published in Gazette notice number 6454 on August 12, 2016 by AK Masinde for director of physical planning,” states part of the application.

In the affidavit, Prof Swazuri has also questioned why Cordisons demands 11,000 acres for the project, while Kenwind, which has met all the requirements, only need slightly more than 3,000 hectares.

Prof Swazuri had argued that Kenwind came in just about two years ago after Cordisons International Ltd and it has already obtained the necessary approvals from the national government.

On Monday, Kenwind Holdings Limited filed preliminary objections through their lawyers Kiarie Kariuki and Mr William Mogaka, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to listen to the case transferred from another court in Mombasa without jurisdiction.

Mr Mogaka argued that the court had no jurisdiction to handle proceedings on matters touching on land planning and ownership and therefore ought to be dismissed with costs of the suit.

At the same time, the judge also enjoined 39 residents of Baharini in Mpeketoni, Lamu West Sub-County as interested parties to challenge Cordisons International Kenya Limited, who claim to have been given all approvals to implement the project in the area.

The case will be heard on April 11.