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Farmers in Naivasha block highway in protest over Sh13 billion power project

RIFT VALLEY
By Antony Gitonga | February 23rd 2015
An ambulance passes near burning tyres along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway during a demonstration by area farmers against the Sh13 billion Kinangop Wind Power Project. (Photo: Antony Gitonga/Standard)

Naivasha, Kenya: Over 1,000 farmers blocked the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway for over four hours to protest the Sh13 billion Kinangop Wind power project.

Transport and business at Fly-Over trading center along the busy highway were completely paralysed amid futile effort by KDF officers to open the highway.

During the protest, one house and a vehicle were burnt down as the farmers engaged police in running battle.

There were unconfirmed reports that two women and a boy were rushed to a private hospital suffering from gunshot wounds.

The protesters, mainly farmers from Kinangop Constituency vowed that the 61MW wind project would not go on. They blamed their area MP Stephen KK Kinyanjui and the investor for the impasse, noting that hundreds of family faced displacement if the project continued.

Trouble started in morning when surveyors arrived in the affected farms to start erecting the wind turbines to the anger of the farmers.

The residents moved in and razed down a house and a vehicle belonging to one of the affected farmers leading to a clash with the police who later fled from the scene.

The farmers blocked the Njabini-Magumu road before later moving to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway which was blocked for over two hours with no police in sight.

One of the farmers, Noah Wambugu vowed that the project would not go on adding that they were ready to die fighting for their rights.

Signed an agreement

The emotional granny noted that if the project continued, tens of families from South Kinangop stood to be evicted from their homes.

"This project is meant to enrich some few individuals and leave hundreds poor and landless and we shall not allow this," he vowed.

The sentiments were echoed by another farmer James Kairu who said that the project had split the area into two groups.

He said that some few people with the backing of the area MP had signed an agreement with the investor, yet the project affected hundreds of families.

"The project has health complications and we shall not allow it to proceed at whatever cost, even if it means dying," he said.

Speaking on phone, the leader of majority in Nakuru County Samuel Waithuki, who is also opposed to the project, said that the farmers were expressing their rights.

Waithuki said that they had for long expressed their dissatisfaction to the Government but this had fallen on deaf ears with some politicians benefiting from the project.

“Finally the voice of the farmers has been heard and we hope that sanity will prevail and the project be cancelled with immediate effect,” he said.

For the last couple of months, some farmers in Kinangop South have opposed the project while others have supported it.

The area MP who at one time objected to the project has since changed sides and is now supporting the plan that has promised Sh290 million to develop the area.

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