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Maasai demand bigger stake in Olkaria power project

By Antony Gitonga | Jan 23rd 2017 | 2 min read
Members of the Maasai community from Olkaria Naivasha hold a peaceful demonstration demanding their inclusion in the upcoming 140mw Olkaria V project. They accused some KenGen directors of sidelining members of the community in the multi-million project that affects them. PHOTO: Antony Gitonga

Residents of Olkaria, Naivasha, yesterday held a peaceful demonstration against the upcoming Olkaria V geothermal power project.

The demonstrators blocked roads leading to the project area demanding involvement in the 140mw power project.

The residents were demanding 50 per cent representation in the project's stakeholders co-ordination committee.

They accused Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) of giving them a raw deal and threatened to block the commissioning of the project by President Uhuru Kenyatta next month.

However, KenGen denied the allegations, saying a stakeholders committee was addressing all the issues raised by the pastoralists.

Area leader Maenga Kisotu accused KenGen of giving residents in the project area a raw deal.

Kisotu said that residents gave up community land for the exploration of more geothermal energy but KenGen had failed to keep their end of the agreement.

"KenGen has refused to include the community in the stakeholders co-ordination committee despite the effects the power generation has on the community," he said.

The sentiments were echoed by another leader, Mwangi Sululu, who claimed that an earlier MoU between the community and the power generating company had been ignored.

"Before this project we were relocated to an area that has no water, pasture for our animals and the roads are impassable," he said.

Another leader, Mike Roka, called on development partners and donors in the project to help protect local communities living in the project area from marginalisation.

"We have been marginalised for long and we can't keep quiet anymore," he said.

Area youth leader Grace Kisotu accused KenGen of denying locals in the project employment opportunities.

"For years tens of qualified Maasai youths have failed to benefit from this company," she said.

KenGen has denied the accusations, instead accusing unnamed individuals of misinformation.

"KenGen has over the years supported members of the Maasai through various projects and this will continue even under the ongoing project," said Abel Rotich, director of geothermal development

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