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State asked to probe concerns over Sh197b coal plant

By Benard Sanga | December 23rd 2015

Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo has called on the Government to suspend the proposed Sh197 billion Amu coal plant project in Lamu.

His call comes amid rising opposition to the initiative due to environmental concerns raised by residents and some political leaders. Madzayo who is also the Senate committee on Labour and Social Services chairman said the health and environmental risks posed by coal mining should be analysed.

Kilifi County Senator Stewart Madzayo testifies before the Mombasa High Court during the on going hearing of a case where a number of youths attacked him with a panga and left him for dead during a rally in Mtwapa early last year where one of the bodygards for Kilifi County Governor was killed, Thursday October 16, 2014. The hearing of the case countinues. (PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/ STANDARD)

"I personally support the project, but what we are saying is that there is no hurry. Listen to the concerns residents are raising. Assure them of elaborate plans to contain negative effects on the environment, residents and employees," said Mr Madzayo.

He said the consortium should come up with proper health facilities and other financing packages to treat any Lamu resident who would fall ill because of emissions from the plant.

"All over the world coal projects have been found to be one the dirtiest means of generating power. It has been opposed all over and its negative effects are well documented. It is only good that we start on the right foot," said Madzayo.

Generating power

The Amu power plant project, whose construction was scheduled to start on September 30, is expected to generate power at 7.52 dollar cents per kilowatt hour, almost a third of the price for diesel-fired plants.

In February, the consortium announced Sh1,013 billion financing deal with the Industrial Commercial Bank of China. It recently said it was also negotiating with local banks for the remaining loan.

Lamu MP Shakila Abdallah has sustained public protests against the plan, leading several demonstrations to pile pressure on the county to stop the project.

Gulf Energy, the consortium involved in the project, said they had conducted tests on the site of the proposed plant.

"Due to its complexity, we brought on board experts from South Africa, Abu Dhabi and China to carry out specialist studies on various elements.

"The assessment reports will be submitted to National Environment Management Authority and shared with the county assembly and other stakeholders," said the consortium earlier.

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