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January 20, 2019

Coal a killer, stop projects to save Kenyans, Muhuri tells Uhuru

Residents hold placards as they march in a protest against government plans to build East Africa's first coal plant in Lamu County, December 6, 2016. /REUTERS
Residents hold placards as they march in a protest against government plans to build East Africa's first coal plant in Lamu County, December 6, 2016. /REUTERS

​​​A lobby group has implored President Uhuru Kenyatta to immediately order an end to coal projects in Lamu and Kitui counties.

Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) pointed out on Tuesday that the mining will affect land in Kitui's Mui Basin.

"It will badly affect fishermen in Lamu and farmers in Kitui, destroy the environment , cause people health problems and affect livelihoods," Executive Director Hassan Abdille said in a statement.

This was part of his statement on World Environment Day whose theme was 'Beating Plastic Pollution.

The member of 'deCOALonize​' - an initiate aimed at forcing the government to abandon coal projects - noted that there are alternative cheap, clean and reliable sources of energy.

Abdille claimed rogue operators want to cash in at the expense of people near the "killer" projects.

He added that Kenyans will be burdened by high taxes as the government struggles to pay loans taken to build the plant, transmission line and railway extensions required for mining.

"The coal plant contract will require Kenya Power to pay Sh3.6 billion per year for 25 years - whether or not electricity is used," the official said.

Abdille further said that the government violated activists' right to expression with arrest during protests in Lamu.

'Save Lamu' officials Walid Ahmed and Ishaq Khati were arrested two weeks ago after staging a demonstration. They were later released but Abdille said the arrests were a blow to their action.

"The government, and those who act on its behalf, should respect the rights of Kenyans to express themselves on issues that affect them, and learn to consult and engage widely with the community stakeholders."

Abdille was of the view that it is foolhardy for the government to impose projects on communities and refuse to grant human rights to healthy and sustainable environments in its undertakings.

The group however praised the government for banning plastic bags and taking steps to increase forest cover.

"This is a commendable initiative in protecting the environment and our prosperity," Abdille noted.

Read: World Environment Day: How smuggling threatens Kenya’s plastic bags ban

Also read: World Environment Day: Ruto orders monthly plastic waste disposal by counties

Four US Senators have protested against the establishment of the plant, citing its dangers and Kenya's progress in environmental conservation.

Jeffrey Merkley, Brian Schatz, Bernard Sanders and Edward Markey wrote a letter to African Development Bank (AfDB), asking it not to finance the project.

Details: US Senators ask AfDB not to finance 'dangerous' Lamu coal plant

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