Lamu Coal Plant Ready to Take off as State Takes over Land
- The National Land Commission (NLC) has started taking over more than 869 acres of public land from squatters and private investors, paving the way for the finalisation of the Lamu power coal plant project.
- The construction of the 981.5MW plant was expected to start at the end of September and was to be completed in a record 21 months.
- However, land acquisition and a legal challenge to its procurement process by the losing bidder have delayed the project. The case was, however, dropped in June after Hebei Construction Investment Group (HCIG) and its Kenyan partner Liketh Investments withdrew their case.
The National Land Commission (NLC) has started taking over more than 869 acres of public land from squatters and private investors, paving the way for the finalisation of the Lamu power coal plant project.
The power consortium said that the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) study for the Amu plant is complete.
This clears a major hurdle that has delayed the building of Kenya’s first coal-fired power plant. The construction of the 981.5MW plant was expected to start at the end of September and was to be completed in a record 21 months.
However, land acquisition and a legal challenge to its procurement process by the losing bidder have delayed the project. The case was, however, dropped in June after Hebei Construction Investment Group (HCIG) and its Kenyan partner Liketh Investments withdrew their case.
In a notice, NLC said it has initiated the process of resettling those occupying the land.
“Notice is issued to all members of the public within and beyond the area commonly referred to as Kwasasi, in Lamu County, that the commission intends to allocate 869 acres of public land to Amu Company,” NLC said.
AMU chief executive Francis Njogu said that the impact assessment study is currently under review internally.
“We are awaiting the Resettlement Action Plan [RAP] which forms an integral part of the impact assessment study. This is being led by the Ministry of Energy and NLC,” said Mr Njogu. “Once this resettlement plan is complete, we will submit the impact assessment to as they await the National Environment management Authority (Nema) for consideration.”
Mr Njogu said that the details of the environmental and social impact assessment study will be made public once the Amu consortium approves it.
The study provides an opportunity for the developer to be forewarned of potential environmental and social issues, and allows for resolution and mitigation of the issues reported in the ESIA report.
“Once approved internally, it will be uploaded onto Nema’s website. Additionally and as required by law, hard copies of the study will be made publicly available,” said Mr Njogu.
Environmentalists have raised concerns over the plant’s carbon emissions, and disposal of toxic coal ash. They say that the ash contains pollutants such as lead and arsenic, which cause respiratory ailments and water poisoning if not handled properly.
Mr Njogu said that as with any such large scale project, there will be potential adverse environmental and social impacts.
“We have conducted numerous specialised studies and their details and recommendations will be available once the impact assessment report is publicly available. But we have to ensure that the design of the project includes a properly engineered ash yard for receiving the by-products and waste,” he said.
For instance, the power plant hopes to use some by-products like gypsum for the manufacture of cement, while fly ash can be used in the construction of tarmac roads or manufacture of concrete blocks.
Mid this year, the project received the blessings of the Lamu county government after its Assembly approved it.
Health, Environment and Sanitation Committee chairman Athman Amin said that the county had unanimously approved the power coal plant project in Kwasasi.
“We are aware that the company engaged the community in consultations about the power plant,” said Mr Amin.
The Lamu coal-fired power project at full capacity is expected to produce 1,000MW. It will be funded through a mix of debt and equity.
According to Centum, $500 million will be funded through equity while $1.35 billion will come in through debt. In February, Amu Power got $1.2 billion financing from the Industrial Commercial Bank of China.
The African Development Bank will provide a partial risk guarantee for the coal plant, the largest in East and Central Africa. The firm also hopes to get a loan financing deal from a leading local bank for the remaining part of the project.