The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya has sought to clear his country's name from the controversial coal-fuelled power plant in Lamu that has seen Civil Society groups and the coastal town’s residents protest in the streets.
Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng, while addressing representatives of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and some Kenyan Civil Society groups in the embassy in Nairobi today refuted claims that his country was involved in the construction of the plant in Lamu.
The meeting was a result of a petition delivered by PACJA at the embassy on a day they also held street protests in Nairobi, claiming that the coal project was not worth doing because it was going to leave Kenyans poorer and sicker due to the environmental and other degradations that were likely to come with such projects, including heightened green house gas emission.
A Supreme court National Environment Tribunal in Nairobi, cancelled the AMU Power license to construct the plant and asked the firm and the nation’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to do a new Environment Impact Assessment and engage the community more before a go-ahead fro the construction could be given. The Tribunal cited insufficient public participation.
AMU Power is one of the firms that were awarded a tender to construct the plant.
“Kenyan people have the final say on this project and the Chinese government respects that,” the Ambassador said.
He reiterated that his Government was not directly involved in the construction of the plant, as those contracted were businesses or companies from China looking for business opportunities.
“Chinese companies are here because Kenyan government invited them to invest here and do this project. We can only do what we are allowed to do, in consistence with the diplomatic principles at play,” said Wu.
A business director at Power China confirmed that despite having signed a contract more than three years ago, to construct the plant, work had not started on sight.
William Sharify, the businessman, said they would wait for a go-ahead from the Government.
Representing PACJA at the meeting were Charles Mwangi, Olivia Adhiambo and Khaduyu Michael, all who focus on clean energy at the CSO. “We must be cognisant of the fact that this project will come with negative effect on our land, the Lamu people’s economic mainstay, on the air and the ocean (Indian) and all the living things in it, as there will be massive pollution and of air and water, as well as the aquatic life,” said Ms Adhiambo, the Thematic Lead (Energy) at PACJA.
They called on the Government to invest more on clean and renewable energy as well as consider how the biodiversity would be affected if such a project as in the coastal Lamu County, which is a UNESCO-recognised historical area with more than 60 archipelagos and a lot of other resources that local residents have relied on.
The coal power project is expected to cost more than $1.9 billion.
The CSOs have urged the Government to cancel the project and save the country the debts that would also come with it, as well as strive to stick to the Paris Agreement that it is a signatory of.