The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: How Elusive Coal Deal Was Brokered in Kitui

Details have emerged on how the stalemate over the mining of coal in Blocks C and D of the Mui Coal Basin in Kitui county was resolved.

The Star has established that Mwingi Central MP Joe Mutambu played a critical role in resolving the matter.

The star has seen a letter from chief geologist John Omenge addressed to the Kitui Central Constituency Development Forum chairman Jacob Musyoka.

The letter, dated December 5, addresses issues that were raised by Mui residents.

Mutambu engaged government officials, area MPs, the Chinese firm awarded the concession to mine the coal, and community representatives in lengthy discussions which led to a compromise.

Mutambu said that the government and the Fenxi Mining Industry Company Ltd eventually agreed to incorporate all the residents' concerns in the Benefit Sharing Agreement that was signed on Sunday in Mwingi town.

The letter read in part, "It has also been clarified by representatives of Fenxi that once the concession is in place, opportunities will be made available for other parties including the local community from Kitui to own shares in the concession through the Capital Market process."

At the same time, he managed to convince the Mwingi Central Constituency Development Forum and the Community Liaison Committee on coal led by LSK Chairman Eric Mutua to drop two cases filed to oppose the coal project.

In the new BSA document, the Kitui residents now have an opportunity to own shares in the Chinese company as the mining process continues.

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum has indicated that Fenxi has agreed to allow shareholding by other parties alongside the area residents. Shares will however be acquired through the Capital Market Authority process.

In the letter, Omenge said all persons to be affected by the mining process will be issued with land tittle deeds for ease of compensation. He assured that land acquired for the coal project would be returned to the original owners once the project lapses on condition that due process is followed.

He said that provisions for proper compensation and resettlement of those to be displaced had been incorporated in the Benefit Sharing Agreement. Omenge added that information and data on the coal project is available to all and sundry and an office was set up at Mathuki trading centre in November.

The letter further said Nema and local community will oversee the coal project to ensure safe mining. Omenge said mining will be by pit and open cast methods although open mining will be minimal to avoid air pollution.

He said Mui residents will have easy access to water, roads, railways and electricity once the coal project gets underway.

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