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Land disputes impede electricity projects in the Kenya

Energy companies have resolved to work with communities in the country to implement electricity projects without disruption from communities.

According to the companies, disputes from land owners have been a big impediment while mounting electricity poles as well as installing electricity within the various communities.

Speaking during a recent  Future Energy East Africa conference, the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, Land Economist, Johnson  Muthoka  said land disputes in Kenya have always been a very emotive issue that impedes Kenya Electricity System Improvement projects.

“Land  identified for projects involves a lot of negotiations therefore delaying project implementation with huge cost incurred or even complete abandonment of projects,” he said.

Muthoka  highlighted areas that land ownership could obstruct electricity projects namely encroachment, anticipating higher compensation, dispute among family members, budgetary constraints (delays in compensation), litigation challenges where those who feel offended get court orders to halting on-going projects including political leaders ganging up to stop work for political mileage.

“A solution to these issues can be found through prior planning, early engagement of land owners, minimizing physical displacement and involving the government to ensure security from disruption of projects,” advised Muthoka.

The  Strauss Energy Chief Operating Officer, Charity  Wanjiku said community participation is key in project implementation and that involving communities from the region would help them understand the need for electricity projects.

“Companies should not only work for community but work with them,” said Wanjiku, adding that security and manpower should be sourced from the local people.

Additionally, Wanjiku said companies should have someone on the ground who understands the rules, regulations and cultures of the community during projects.

“Find a local person who will act as a link between the community and the company,” she advised.

Wanjiku noted that with energy, the cost of living would reduce resulting in the attainment of the governments big four agenda.

The  Africa Utilities Technology Council, South Africa Executive Director, Mlungisi Mkhwanazi reiterated that land issues lead to delays and over costing of projects.

“While facing difficult cases involving land owners during electricity projects, the last resort is to forcibly acquire land without compensation,” he said.

By  Rosebell  Njega

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