Hundreds protested plans in this capital by the government to construct a $2 billion coal plant on the island of Lamu just off the cost of Mombasa.
Led by environmental activists, protesters said the plan to build a 1050 MegaWatts coal-fired plant is unnecessary because 85% of Kenya’s electricity is already from clean renewable energy such as geothermal, wind and solar power.
"We have come all the way from Lamu to Nairobi," said Hamadi Barka, who traveled 290 miles (466 kilometers) from the island. “Our government doesn’t care about our environment. It doesn’t care about our health. It is Lamu residents who will suffer if we allow the coal plant to be built there.”
Protest coordinator Omar Elmawi told Anadolu Agency more than 200 people from Nairobi, Lamu and Kitui took to the streets to tell, “both the government of Kenya and the Chinese that we do not want any coal project in Kenya. Be it coal-mining or a coal plant, because they are not only harmful to the environment but also to our health and our economy.”
Demonstrators brought traffic to a standstill in the capital as they marched to Ministry of Energy offices where they read aloud a letter to the Energy Minister Charles Keter telling him why they are against the plants and coal mines.
The U.N. environment office in Nairobi has warned that Kenya has more than enough current capacity and potential for renewable energy generation to not only meet current electricity demands but also to meet and exceed the projected demands through 2030.
Experts also warned the coal-plant, once operational, will increase Kenya’s carbon emissions by 700%.
Environmentalists said Lamu, which has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, boasting one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, will be threatened.
The U.N. environment office warned in addition to the risks to human health, in Lamu the dust would coat the mangroves, reducing their ability to exchange carbon dioxide and harm marine organisms.
By Andrew Wasike in Nairobi, Kenya