The second phase of a multi-billion-shilling expansion at the Port of Mombasa is facing a threat from locals who want the Kenya Ports Authority to compensate them before mining sand for the project.
At a meeting of the National Assembly’s Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, KPA managing director Gichiri Ndua (below) was told that residents of Kwale County insist that they be compensated for the first phase before the second one commenced.
The MPs said they had conducted a fact-finding mission in the area after locals complained sand harvesting was going to destroy marine life, and by extension their fishing returns, for which they had to be compensated.
That demand for cash for sand is likely to slow down the implementation of the second phase of the Mombasa Port Development Project that is funded by the Government of Japan. The project seeks to increase the capacity of the port to an annual 1.3 million twenty-foot containers next year.
“They don’t want anyone to harvest sand because (the last time) you damaged the environment, affected the people’s livelihood and went away,” said Amina Abdalla, the chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
This time, KPA wants to go for 8.3 million cubic metres of sand – about 14,000 tonnes of sand or at least 1,400 truckloads.
The locals had complained that China Road and Bridge Construction was mining sand for the Standard Gauge Railway.
But Ndua, the KPA boss, who was in the company of top managers of the authority and an environmental consultant, said there “was no basis for the compensation” because their studies had shown that there was no effect on the marine life.
Ndua insisted the Japan International Corporation Agency, who are the financiers of the project, were thorough on environmental questions and therefore if KPA was degrading marine life, then compensation would have been inevitable.
“That project wouldn’t have continued if there was a problem,” said Ndua who told MPs that they had carried studies on environmental impact in the first phase and had filed 34 reports with the National Environment Management Authority.
The local leaders who sat through the meeting at Parliament Buildings were Hassan Mwanyoha (Matuga) and Khatib Mwashetani (Lungalunga).
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