The Star (Nairobi)

27 June 2012

Kenya: Lamu Port Land Dispute Referred to Chief Justice

The controversial Lamu port case has been referred to the Chief Justice. This follows an application by lobby groups, civil societies and the local communities to have the multi-billion project halted on grounds that there were no consultations and stakeholders stand to lose. Malindi High Court judge Lady Justice Christine Meoli yesterday directed the matter be placed urgently before Chief Justice Willy Mutunga for the purpose of empanelling a three judge bench or more for the matter to proceed.

Mohamed Ali Baad and nine other petitioners through their advocate Senior Counsel Paul Muite had filed a notice motion demanding the case be heard by three judges. The Lamu residents in the petition said the project should be suspended arguing that they were not consulted and the Environmental Impact Assessment was not done before the project begun. The petitioners also said the government had not addressed the issue of compensation and they fear they could lose their ancestral land.

According to the petition the project will destroy the Lamu World heritage site that was named by UNESCO in 2001. "With a destroyed ecosystem and no mitigation plan, Lamu residents will not only be economically displaced through reduced tourism, but also culturally marginalized as a result of the drastic population increase expected of 1.25 million people as per the proposed project feasibility study report," said the petition in part.

The petitioner also accuse the government of infringing and violating provisions of the constitution of Kenya 2010 including the fundamental rights and freedom of the petitioners as guaranteed by the bill of rights (chapter four of the constitution). They also argue that the project will have devastating effects for the marine ecosystem of Lamu region.

The petitioners are also worried about the scale of pollution that the project will give rise to. The respondents enlisted by the petitioners are The Attorney General,Ministry of Environment,Ministry of Lands,Ministry of Roads,Ministry Of Energy,Ministry of Information and Communication,Ministry of Public Works,Kenya Ports Authority and National Environmental Management Authority.

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