WANTS PEOPLE-DRIVEN PROCESS

Outlaw coal mining in BBI report, urges MP Mbai

Kitui East lawmaker says activities pose environmental health hazards to residents

In Summary

•MP says BBI must be amended to contain views of those who feel left out to achieve consensus 

Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai during a press conference at his home in Athi River on November 15, 2020
Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai during a press conference at his home in Athi River on November 15, 2020
Image: GEORGE OWITI

 

An MP has proposed that coal mining be outlawed as part of changes to be made to the Constitution through the Building Bridges Initiative.

Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai said outlawing coal mining will end anxiety among communities living in fear of environmental health hazards occasioned by such activities.

He said many people living around areas earmarked for such projects also fear they might be forced to relocate.

“The Moi Coal Basin is in Kitui county cuts across three constituencies of Kitui South, Kitui East and Mwingi Central. This means that if coal mining in Kenya is allowed, people from the three areas will be affected by the coal,” Mbai said.

“So in the BBI report, it should be clear that Kenya should outlaw coal mining.  Failure to include that proposal means the BBI report will find a lot of hurdles especially with the people of Kitui.”

He was speaking at a press conference at his home in Athi River, Machakos county on Sunday.

Mbai urged all Kenyans to come out and participate in the BBI process without fear or feeling intimidated.

“It is high time we come to the realisation that this country belongs to all of us. I am worried because I have seen Kenyans being quiet at an opportune time when we are trying to make our next Constitution. It is clear that the Constitution is changing early next year. I urge all Kenyans to come out and participate in this process without fear,” the MP said.

He said the views of all citizens should be included in the BBI report.

The MP also called for the establishment of Mwingi county and additional constituencies in Kitui.

He said the constitution-making process must be people-driven and not be left to political leaders alone.

He said Kitui is an expansive county and should also get the additional constituencies created in the BBI report. He said Mwingi was to become a county in 2010 but was shortchanged in the last minute.

"What we have seen is that Kitui got no extra administrative or political units yet other smaller regions got them. We have never gotten an extra constituency. Mwingi was there as a county in the 2010 Constitution but removed in the last minutes. BBI should include Mwingi as a county.”

Mbai said it was shocking that both Makueni and Machakos got three additional constituencies yet Kitui that is bigger than the two combined got nothing.

“So, how do we leave Kitui without an extra constituency? We are urging and have submitted our proposals that Kitui is given an extra constituency in the name of Kitui municipality,” Mbai said.

The lawmaker accused ODM leader Raila Odinga of politically brokering the BBI report to the citizens.

“After the President said he was going to build consensus and allow more views, we have seen a trend where interest groups, communities, economic blocks, among others are being forced to take their proposals to Raila instead of the BBI taskforce,” Mbai said.

He said Kitui residents will move to court this week to seek an interpretation on and stop the BBI process until Raila is barred from receiving views.

“All these follow irregularities that have been committed in the process of coming up with the referendum bill and questions. We will not allow a process that will affect our children to be possessed and taken up by an individual.”