The government spokesperson, Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna has called on environmental activists who are against the proposed coal power plant in Lamu County to be truthful to Kenyans and tell us whose interest they are serving.
Oguna said that there are a lot of noises coming from activists who are agents of forces outside this country and asked Kenyans to put the nation’s interest first.
“When there are all these noises in the system lets not listen to them, there is no government that would come up with a project which will not benefit the people that it is serving including the coal power plant,” explained Oguna.
This comes a few days after the National Environmental Tribunal (NET) on June 26, 2019 canceled the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license that was issued by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) on the Lamu Coal plant, calling for a new EIA exercise.
The tribunal on its ruling said that this is a clear indication that public participation (a right guaranteed under the Kenya Constitution 2010) was not adequately conducted and that the project seeks to benefit a few individuals at the expense of the Lamu community.
Oguna speaking during the unveiling of a report on Status of Manufacturing Sector in Kenya on Wednesday said that the move to halt the project is a setback but again as a government they have to look at enhancing and improving our other sources of energy where we have potential on geothermal, wind and solar.
Oguna explained that the problem with geothermal is that it takes a lot of time to complete with one station taking between 7-8 years.
“Right now we have four geothermal stations and in total they produce around 660 Mega Watts (MW) and our total requirement for energy to run our industries is 5,000 MW and that cannot be met by the geothermal. Wind and solar are susceptible to weather changes and that is why the government gave a consideration for coal which is very stable,” explained Oguna.
He continued… “Some of us have not been able to understand how the global dynamics are playing out; we are living in a world that is very competitive where it is survival for the fittest. And so when Kenya wants to develop and start manufacturing its own goods there are forces who want to fight back so that we remain their markets.”
Oguna said that we are importing simple things like toothpicks from China, eggs from South Africa and Oranges from Egypt making us a ready market for cheap goods from other countries insisting that we need energy and skilled manpower to produce our own goods.
“As an individual I have always thought there is need to have collaboration between the government, the private sector and academia in order to be able to bring out what we call the triple helix where the government provides a conducive environment, the private sector brings the resources required and the academia come up with the innovation,” he said.
Oguna said that the government will be undertaking public sensitization campaigns on the coal power plant to demystify the myths around it and make Kenyans understand its importance in helping the country grow its manufacturing sector.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a