A government human rights watchdog has raised the red flag on the ongoing mega infrastructure projects in Lamu and wants MPs to intervene to protect local communities from “devastating effects”.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has petitioned the parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to investigate complaints that the Sh2.25 trillion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport corridor project and the Sh200 billion Amu coal power plant after locals raised environmental concerns.
KNCHR secretary Patricia Nyaundi on Thursday told temporary committee chairman Moitalel ole Kenta on Thursday: “We have received numerous complaints that the coal plant will increase ocean temperatures by nine per cent. Because this (coal) is not our area competence as a commission, we felt that we had a duty to approach you as Parliament for interventions. We are told coal mining will have this effect.”
Ms Nyaundi said the Nema Act gives persons and other stakeholders to be affected by a project a month to provide public comment before a hearing.
“In the case of coal power plant, the petitioners said public hearing was held before the duration of the public comment was up and the venue was inaccessible as it costs Sh2,000 for return trip by boat,” she said.
She said the House committee is better placed to marshal resources from the Treasury for hiring marine experts to do a study on whether the allegations are true.
Ms Nyaundi said the petitioners further claimed that the impact of the proposed Coal Power Plant will result in uprooting of Mangrove trees hence disturbing the entire ecosystem of the Ocean.
She asked the committee to invite marine experts to shed light on the possible effects of the 1,000-megawatt plant.
On the Lamu corridor project, which was commissioned by former President Mwai Kibaki in 2012, KNCHR said dredging had resulted in the release of silt into the Ocean, hence a rise in water levels.
The Sh2.25 trillion project is expected to open up Kenya’s northern frontier for more trade and investment, and has been identified as the long term conduit for Kenya’s oil exports through a crude pipeline linking Lamu to the oilfields in Turkana County.