June 13, 2024

Chonyi Residents Reject 12 Billion Cement Project

Former Bahari MP Dkt. Mtana lewa address journalists at Mawe meru in Chasimba, Kilifi County/ Ronald Ngoba.

By Ronald Ngaba

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

A Chonyi community of Chasimba Ward in Kilifi County has rejected the proposed setting up of a Sh12 billion cement factory at Mawe Meru alleging the project was an environmental disaster.

The community is worried by establishing the Mashujaa Q&M PLC factory there will hurt not only its cultural aspects, but also be a threat to the environmental ecosystem.

Opposing the project, the former Bahari MP Dr Mtana Lewa said the area was home to near extinction flora and fauna including the African violet.

“Mawe Meru is among the caves in Kilifi that the National Museum of Kenya strongly lobbied for the inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage site list last year. Others are Panga ya Saidi, Mesheta, Mwanzumari and Girigiri caves, all in Kilifi County. There are also traditions around the Mawe meru cave and that’s why we preserve it, there are prayers done there especially when someone wrongs you, you can go and offer prayers there. Such traditions are still ongoing,” he added.

According to him the caves have more than 31 plant species that are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

“It forms part of the unique outcrop ecosystem with unique and endemic biodiversity, including rare and threatened species found nowhere in the world,” said the legislator making a case for Chasimba’s inclusion in the UNSCO World Heritage Site list.

The caves, says Dr Lewa, hosts the world’s only Cola Octolobiedes and Euphorbia Wakefieldii, two endangered plant species found only in Kenya.

The more than 800 acres of land holds at least 60,000 people that will be affected by the project although its proposers insist of relocating some species to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest as an alternative measure for the biodiversity as outlined in the ESIA.

The Chasimba residents have already written to National Environmental and Management Authority (NEMA) to stop the proposed project.

Justice Chonga, an environmental defender, said the community was not involved during the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study Report which was submitted to National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

“We take great exception to this situation because we understand full well that public participation in regard to development projects, policies and plans is one of the key principals of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Mashujaa Cement PLC avoided engaging the inhabitants and this shows clear that they contravened the constitution of Kenya, Article 10 which states the important of public participation,” he said.

The activist said the rocks were ecoculural with a great significance to the community and conservationist defenders.

“Allowing these investors to set-up their proposed plant is a way of giving our national heritage. It is ill-advised, culturally insensitive, environmental disastrous and will lead to extinction of species only found in this area.”

Bishop Ronald Nzai of the Methodist Church, said the proposed plant would lead to chaos and family feuds.

According to him most of the land in the area is registered as agricultural land which bear names of family members not one person.

“We need to understand the change of user from agricultural to industrial. Some individuals are selling land to the company without the knowledge of other family members. This is very dangerous as it will lead to conflicts,” he added.

The cleric said many institutions in the area would be affected once the operations kick-off.

“How can you build a mining factory in an area surrounded by schools, and health facilities. We strong urge NEMA to stop this because has more harm than good.”

Sylvia Kuvuna, a youth in the area, said the area has been calm, but the proposed mining of materials for cement production poises a risk to the peace and tranquillity of the area.

She further said that the mining activities would pose a threat to the residents living adjacent due to the smoke and emissions of dust from the quarries and the factory.

Nicholas Bandari, another resident, raises his concerns over the productivity of land when the plant start operations based on studies of other similar projects.

“Most of our land will be degraded. Chonyi is the food core of Kilif County. If we allow the factory to set grounds here then we will be doomed as our farmers will harvest nothing.”

Kilifi County is home to a number of mineral ores such as manganise, iron, limestone, titanium in Sokoke and uranium in Arabuko Sokoke Forest.

Industries operating within the area are manganise artisanal mines at Chivara in Galanema and River sand extraction at Kizingo

Nature Kenya also wrote to NEMA requesting them to reject the project terming it outrageous that will harm national heritage

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