Lamu residents oppose Sh23.5bn wind farm

A section of Lamu residents has moved to court seeking to stop compulsory acquisition of their land for the construction of a Sh23.5 billion ($235 million) wind farm by a Belgian company.

The residents want the court to quash a decision by the Lamu County Assembly approving a request by Kenwind Holdings to acquire 3,167 acres of land in Mpeketoni for the project.

They hold that the County Assembly unlawfully passed the motion before the governor’s office had approved Kenwind’s request.

They hold that over 8,000 Mpeketoni residents were not informed of the plan to acquire their land, and that they have not been offered any alternative for settlement.

James Gichu, one of the residents, says the land has been occupied by members of minority communities known as the Bajun and Sanya.

Kenwind has partnered with Belgian firm Electrawinds to develop the wind plant. International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private sector investment arm of the World Bank – announced its support for the project in June 2013.

“The suit land has been occupied by indigenous communities known as the Bajun and Sanya since time immemorial and the illegal alienation of their land without their participation will amount to a violation of their rights. The unlawful approval will culminate into evicting over 8,000 residents of Baharini Ward,” Mr Gichu says.

The petitioners’ lawyer Ndegwa Njiru added that the area has hospitals, 10 churches, three mosques, three public primary schools and other social amenities which benefit the residents.

Mr Njiru says that the County Assembly and county government hold the land in trust for the 8,000 residents and must dissolve the trust before releasing the land to anyone else.

Justice Oscar Angote on Tuesday directed the petitioners to serve the Lamu County Assembly, governor, attorney-general, National Land Commission and Kenwind with the suit papers.

The judge has set September 11 for hearing of the suit.