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May 21, 2018

Ngilu proposal for coal mining queried

Mwingi central MP Gideon Mulyungi speaking over the weekend in Mwingi./LYDIA NGOOLO
Mwingi central MP Gideon Mulyungi speaking over the weekend in Mwingi./LYDIA NGOOLO

MP Gideon Mulyungi has complained that Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu has failed to involve elected and community leaders in plans for coal mining.

Mulyungi said on Sunday that the governor is going ahead with without consultation.

Mui Basin is in Mulyungi’s constituency. Ngilu visited the site without inviting him, he said.

"This is a national issue but I don’t understand why it should be discussed in the county alone," Mulyungi said.

He said that as the people’s representative in Parliament, he should be involved in discussions about mining.

Residents have said that if expanded the mining will benefit them and their main concerns are resolved, they will accept it. But if only a few people will gain, they will reject it, they say.

FAMILY GRAVES

A week ago, Governor Ngilu invited Petroleum and Mining CS John Munyes, investors and some people from the mining areas.

They said coal mining in Mui and quarrying for limestone in Ngaaie will start soon.

Ngilu told investors to avoid backdoor deals and use the right channels to get mining contracts.

The mining will bring a lot of revenue to the county and the nation, she said. Ngilu said mining will eradicate poverty and create jobs.

Mining in Kitui has sparked controversy. Opponents say they fear relocated residents will not be compensated.

Questions have been raised about what will happen to family graves.

MINIERAL WEALTH 

In Ngaaie, most residents have been compensated by Athi River Mining company. They have bought land elsewhere and settled.

"I think Ngilu is only playing public relations and looking for her own gain and not for the residents’ welfare," Mulyungi said.

He said he would call a meeting of residents and leaders to consult. Mining will only start if the people approve, he said.

Coal in Kitui is estimated to be worth Sh12 trillion and limestone Sh4 trillion.

Kenya’s mineral deposits are increasingly being exploited. But experts failure to implement laws and ensure communities know their rights has meant the most marginalised are not benefiting.

Kenya also has proven deposits of titanium, gold, copper, niobium and manganese, as well as oil and gas reserves.

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