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Kitui bets on coal deposits to turn their fortunes

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Philip Muasya | Jul 7th 2015 | 2 min read
By Philip Muasya | July 7th 2015
FINANCIAL STANDARD

The fate of thousands of families living in Mui Basin, Kitui County, which has rich coal deposits, will be decided once the Government is through with demarcation of land and concrete resettlement plan.

The residents are also hoping that the Benefits Sharing Agreement (BSA) will be signed in September this year, to facilitate equitable sharing of proceeds from the venture.

Two blocks

The deal is to be signed between the Government and a Chinese investor. The concession to mine coal in the two blocks of the vast coal belt A (Zombe-Kabati) and B (Mutito-Itiko) was awarded to HCIG Energy Investments Company of China and their local partner, Liketh Investments Kenya Ltd.

HCIG joins another Chinese firm, Fenxi Industry Mining Company, which had already secured the rights to mine Kitui’s enormous deposits of coal. Fenxi won the concession for blocks C and D of Mui Basin in 2013, although the firm is yet to start the work. There were jitters over another Chinese firm being awarded the contract for the two remaining blocks after the earlier successful bid by Fenxi.

The Government however seems to have maintained its faith with Chinese investors to carry out the Mui project.

Adjudication

Kitui County Executive in charge of Environment, Energy and Mineral Investment Development George Mulatya said issues of land adjudication and issuance of title deeds to land owners in the two blocks will be completed by September.

The Vice Chairperson for blocks A and B liaison committee Jennifer David said title deeds are dear to land owners and urged the government to fast track the process.

“As of now, nothing is happening on the ground as far as land adjudication is concerned. A team from the Ministry of Lands was here last year, worked briefly, then disappeared after issuing a few plot numbers,” said David.

She said her committee wants the right procedures be followed before any contracts are signed. “There is no point in hurrying the signing of the Benefits Sharing Agreement, only for the project to stall midway like it happened in block C and D. As a committee, we call for thoroughness in this process.”

Ms David said the BSA should be clear on how the residents will benefit in terms of revenue from the massive project and job allocation.

Mulatya said that unlike in blocks C and D, where the local people felt that their interests were not addressed by the BSA when it was signed, the process for blocks A and B would be inclusive.

“We expect this to be a transparent and smooth affair because all the parties, including the county government and the local community through the liaison committee have been involved in every stage of the process,” said Mulatya.

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