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Lamu County official resigns in protest over Sh204b coal power project

By Patrick Beja | Published Wed, August 24th 2016 at 11:49, Updated August 24th 2016 at 12:44 GMT +3
Lamu County Trade, Tourism, Culture and Natural resources Executive Samia Omar addresses the media in her office. She announced her resignation from her docket. [PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD

LAMU: A top county official has resigned after voicing her opposition to a controversial Sh204.3 billion power project.

Trade, Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources Executive Samia Omar resigned on Monday after she observed that the coal plant might be harmful to the environment.

“As County Executive for both investment and natural resources, my mandate and obligation to the public is conflicted between promoting investment in Lamu, and preserving the environment,” said Ms Omar.

“Having read the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the Lamu Coal Power Plant, I am convinced that the project will have irreversible and profound impact on Lamu,” she added while announcing her resignation.

OBEYING HER CONSCIENCE

The coal-fired power plant will produce 1,050 megawatts and will be put up at Kwawasi in Magogoni sub-county.

Governor Issa Timamy  accepted Omar’s resignation since it was her personal decision.

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He however stressed that the county government was still studying the ESIA and wondered why Omar took the premature decision to resign.

“We are yet to endorse the report on the project. I have however accepted her resignation. There are many Kenyans who can fill that position,” Mr Timamy said.

The development came up as Timamy hosted Deputy President William Ruto, who was touring development projects in the county.

Women Representative Shakilla Abdalla, who has led opposition against the plant, welcomed Omar’s resignation, congratulating her for obeying her conscience.

“I congratulate her for making that decision instead of remaining in conflict with her boss,” said Ms Abdalla.

“She has a right to her opinion and that was the best choice she made. No one should make her support the project, which is harmful to residents,” she added.

Omar said in a statement that she felt she could not effectively executive her mandate, which is promoting investor interests, while at the same time her actions were hurting the environment.

 “I am thankful to Governor Timamy for having appointed me to that position and I am honoured to have had the opportunity to serve the people of Lamu,” said Omar.

“I believe we have worked well with the Governor to develop Lamu,” she added.

National Environment Management Authority (Nema) Director General Geoffrey Wahungu last month asked county residents to provide views on the ESIA report within 30 days.

Timamy and Assembly Speaker Mohamed Hashimu separately said they had received the report from Nema and were studying it before they could make a decision on whether to support it.

Most residents urged Nema to extend the period of review of the report to 90 days to allow wide consultation and provide a window to engage experts to interrogate it.

Prof Wahugu explained that the plant will have a coal receiving system, coal stock yard, ash yard, limestone receiving system, gypsum handling system, sea water cooling system and a fuel gas air quality conditioning system.


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