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Lamu MCAs threaten to sabotage coal power plant over land compensation

Lamu coal power plant site
Lamu coal power plant site. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Lamu MCAs have threatened to sabotage the Sh200 billion coal-fired power plant if the government will insist on land instead of monetary compensation for those displaced by the project.

The project which is under Amu Power Company, a consortium of Gulf Energy and Centum Investment #ticker:ICDC is being set up at Kwasasi village in Hindi Division.

Speaking on Monday, the MCAs led by Deputy Speaker Abdalla Baabad said the suggestion for land compensation was sinister and pointed at a possible plot to con the land owners of the compensation monies.

Mr Baabad rejected the plan to resettle the land owners saying the move was against an earlier agreement to have the farmers get cash.

A total of 975 acres of land have already been acquired for the establishment of the project which is poised to generate about 1,050 megawatts of power once ready and functional.

The initial agreement between the farmers and the investor through the National Lands Commission (NLC) had been for the land owners to get monetary compensation with the commission even determining that an acre of land was to be compensated at Sh800,000.

The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Development Authority, which is the acquiring body for the lands on behalf of the investor, recently wrote to the NLC, advising the commission to apply the Land to Land Compensation Approach as a suitable method of compensation for the affected landowners.

The move has now drawn condemnation and disgruntlement in equal measures as locals and leaders now say there could be plans to dupe them of their rightful compensation.

“We support our farmers. They want to be compensated in cash and so be it. We will not accept the suggestion to have land to land compensation approach. In fact I don’t understand why last minute plans are secretly being made to alter the initial compensation mode. Let them respect our farmers by giving them cash or else, we will not allow any activities to proceed at Kwasasi,” said Mr Baabad.

He said, “Giving alternative lands to our farmers wasn’t the agreement and we won’t allow it to happen. People should also understand that Lamu has no vacant land. Most idle lands have already been invaded by the ever growing squatter population. Even the lands in Boni forest belong to the Boni minority community whom we have been advising to embrace farming on those lands. There is no option except monetary compensation.”  

The Leader of Majority in the Lamu County Assembly who is also the Mkomani Ward MCA Yahya Ahmed Shee reiterated that the government was used to making key decisions on behalf of the people of Lamu without consultations.

Mr Shee said the government had no legal authority to twist or change an earlier agreement without consulting all affected parties unless of course there were plans to dupe.

He said their stand as leaders is to have all the farmers at Kwasasi be compensated in cash and nothing else.

“You can’t just sit alone and make decision on crucial matters affecting mwananchi. The government, LAPSSET and the investor haven’t involved the leaders of this county as well as the farmers themselves on the matter. They expect us to accept and move on. We will not allow that. Let them pay our farmers their cash as earlier agreed. We will defend them until they get their justice. They have a right,” said Mr Shee.

Hongwe Ward MCA James Komu expressed worry that the current disagreement on compensation mode will result to more delay in the establishment of the coal plant project.

Mr Komu insisted that the investor, the LAPSSET and the government sit with the farmers and local leaders so that they can discuss a way forward on the matter.

“They shouldn’t issue a blanket decision on how the farmers are supposed to be compensated. They should consult all stakeholders before reaching consent on the compensation mode. Let the farmers be given cash unless there are others who need land. They can as well approach those opting for land and talk with them as individuals,” said Mr Komu.

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