End of row as lands team approves power project

The National Lands Commission has approved a Sh21 billion wind power project, putting to rest a standoff between squatters and the investor.

National Lands Commission (NLC) Chair Muhammad Swazuri said stringent compensation demands from the locals has delayed the project, adding that the commission has conducted an evaluation and agreed with the investor to pay Sh100 million as compensation.

NLC was forced to hold a consultative meeting between the investor and Waitemere squatters on the land following a four-year standoff over relocation and compensation.

Speaking on Saturday in Lamu, Swazuri said locals on the 3,200-acre proposed site of the project had been incited by a section of political leaders to make astronomical demands as compensation for land.

He said following the valuation on the structures on the site, it had been established that 259 families on the land would be compensated.

The project financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is being undertaken by the Belgium renewable-energy developer Electrawind and its local partner, Kenwind. 

PUBLIC AWARENESS

Currently, the IFC, a World Bank financing arm, is undertaking an environmental impact assessment. In January 2013, IFC signed a pact with Electrowind to finance the project.

According to Electrowinds, IFC owns 45 per cent of the project that is expected to generate electricity for 20 years.

Swazuri said the consortium has already received all the approval from national and county governments’ agencies to move to the site.
“The investor has received all the approval and conducted public awareness. We cannot allow some people to continue spreading propaganda and incite locals against the project,” said Swazuri

The commission said the Government will do everything to make sure the wind power project takes off because it was critical in supporting the Lapsset project, which requires a lot of power in its installations like the airport oil refinery, the port and the resort city.

 Addressing residents of Bahari Ward in Mpeketoni, NLC commissioners termed the move by a section of politicians to incite the locals to oppose the project as economic sabotage. Commissioner Samuel Tororei said the Government plans to generate 20 per cent of the 5000MW it plans to add to the national grid.
“The locals will negotiate compensation with the Government, but not the investor. But the growing culture by the locals who think that whenever there is a huge project the Government has come with bags of money to pay them must stop,” said Tororei.

The wind power project with a lifespan of 20 years is expected to generate 90 megawatts.

Swazuri said the proposed site of the project was a public land and that it was a compulsory acquisition because of the significance of the project.

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