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Government seeks to address wind power project concerns in Kinangop

Nyandarua, Kenya: The Government has attributed opposition over the Sh14 Billion Kinangop Wind Power Project to a communication breakdown between residents and the investors.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Davies Chirchir said the government is addressing all issues raised by those opposed to the project to ensure it kicks off as planned.

The CS said the project which will generate renewable power from wind has enormous benefits for residents of Kinangop once completed.

Chirchir who led a high powered government delegation to Olkalou to discuss the fate of the project following violent protests from residents, said there were challenges in implementing the project owing to communication breakdown between the Kinangop Windpark Ltd, leaders and farmers.

The project that seeks 61MW wind power from the agriculture rich area has caused divisions in the area leading to demonstrations and even death of one of the locals.

At the center of the dispute is Sh14Billion meant to compensate farmers and supply to the national grid the megawatts as part of the government’s promise to acquire 5,000mw in 40 months.

“We have held a meeting with all the leaders in the county and though there has been a challenge of communication we have addressed the issues raised and we need to reach an agreement so that the project starts,” Chirchir said.

The CS left before leaders from the county ended a day-long meeting aimed at finding a solution to the problem.

Political differences between leaders in the county have infiltrated the initiative and complicated attempts to end the year-long stalemate over the project.

According to the CS, the Private Investment Company will create job opportunities directly and indirect and make other investors invest in county

Last Monday a house and vehicle belonging to one of the villagers was burnt when irate villagers invaded his home at Magumu accusing him of supporting the controversial Project.

Residents were angered by the decision by the farmer to allow surveyors to sub-divide his land in preparation for the project kick-off.

A day later a 19 year-old man was shot dead during a confrontation between police and villagers opposed to the multi-billion initiative.

Chirchir said he had so far held 15 meeting with local leaders in Nairobi and about 30 issues had emerged which required to be addressed in line with demands by residents.

He however, said that residents seemed not to understand the opportunities the project would bring to the area once cheaper power is produced as a result of the project.

Nakuru County Assembly Majority leader Samuel Waithuki who attended the meeting said they are against the way it is being implemented and failure to have public participation before it started.

“It is very sad that a young person had to die as a result of the project and we are wondering why issues raised by residents are being ignored,” said Waithuki

The farmers are demanding for a reasonable compensation for the land where the wind turbines will be erected.

Among the leaders who attended the meeting held at the Nyandarua County Commissioners office were: Energy Permanent Secretary, Joseph Njoroge, Governor Daniel Waithaka, his Deputy Waithaka Mwangi, MPs Stephen Kinyanjui (Kinangop), John Kihagi (Naivasha) and Members of the County Assembly.