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Lamu plant’s ‘cost in lives exceeds benefits’

Many people will die of ailments and the health burden will be massive if the proposed Sh200 billion Lamu coal-fired power plant becomes operational, an expert witness said.

Testifying before the National Environment Tribunal in Nairobi yesterday, economist Ernest Niemi said studies show the social cost of the project will exceed the economic benefits of running the power plant. He is the president of Natural Resource Economics.


“To the developers and from the inside, the project looks good but it is bad for society in terms of air and water quality,” he said.

“If it were constructed and operated, the Lamu project would diminish overall human well-being by imposing onto workers, families, businesses, and communities social costs that exceed the value of the electricity.”

Niemi said the cost of operation will be cheap for developers, but expensive and hazardous to society.

He faulted the Environment Impact Assessment report that approved the project. “The report does not describe the social cost of the coal-fired power plant, therefore, citizens have no way to compare the impact of the coal against the benefit of electricity,” Niemi said.

Having examined coal plants elsewhere and looking at the proposed Lamu plant, Niemi said particles, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and mercury will be emitted by vessels delivering South African coal. To humans, it will lead to respiratory diseases. “Studies show children born in downwindof a coal power plant are underweight, requiring constant medical attention,” he said.

By Ramadhan Rajab, The Star