June 16, 2024

Will Block Nuclear Power Plant from Abroad, Says Omutatah

Busia Senator Okiyo Omutatah addressing anti Nuclear Power Energy Petitioners at Uyombo Village Kilifi County over the weekend. (Photo By Mwakwaya Raymond)

By Mwakwaya Raymond

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Plans to construct a nuclear power energy plant at Uyombo village in Kilifi County have run into headwinds with the opposition of Busia Senator Okiyo Omutatah.

The first to raise objections through public barazas were Uyombo villagers, then came a petition to the Senate through Senator Omutatah.

Some unsatisfied voices went to court to seek legal redress by filing a case with intention to stop Nuclear Power Energy Plant Agency (NUPEA) from putting up the plant at Uyombo village.

At the village on Saturday (March 02, 2024), while talking to petitioners Senator Omutatah disclosed that to win the fight against the project it would need to engage a different gear.

According to him he plans to travel abroad so as to meet those financing the project and convince them to  withdraw their support to be in line with the Kenyan populous opposed to it.

Dealing with the project financiers abroad, he said was the sure bet to handle the issue internationally rather than locally where it could be compromised by those pushing for it.

Determined he is to ensure his efforts bear fruits the ‘soonest’ by touching the right buttons and voices that matter abroad.

“Last time when they wanted to build a coal plant in Lamu, alongside other dignitaries, I travelled abroad where we sat down with the project financiers and convinced them to abandon the plan.”

That saved the people of Lamu County from coal pollutants, he said adding that the same would be repeated to save the people of Kilifi County from the effects of a nuclear plant.

The vocal Senator, was part of the Senate Committee on Energy team, that had visited residents of Uyombo at Kwa Bomu Bomu to hear their views for or against the nuclear project in their backyard.

The committee was scheduled to receive public views from not only the locals, but also other interested parties and petitioners although a section of the same failed show up in the second day of its sitting with others citing the ongoing court case as basis of their withdrawal from Senate sittings.

On March 1, 2024, the chair of the Committee on Energy Senator Wahome Wamatinga (Nyeri) suspended the proceedings after learning that there was an active court case filed at a Malindi court of the same.

According to him both the Senate and the court shared the same powers and bound by the Constitution to serve Kenyans and the two arms of government cannot undertake the same matter concurrently.

“I throw the ball to the Uyombo people to choose whether to go by the Court or withdraw the case and give us time to proceed with petition.”

Before the chair suspended the sittings, Nuclear Power Energy Plant Agency (NUPEA) chief executive officer Justus Wabuyabo told the committee the the agency was bound by a court case and that it would be prejudicial to give their views to the committee.

This prompted the chair to suspend the sittings and also withdraw further engagements on the matter.

Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, a member of the committee, said in the future there was need to balance between investment and environment saying there were opportunities that came alongside such investment that should not jeopardize the livelihoods of the inhabitants of any given ecosystem.

“Though we wanted to assist Uyombo people our hands are tied now that there’s a  pending court case.”

Center for Justice and Governance Ethics  Agency (CJGEA) executive director Phyllis Omindo said she would start a marathon collection of signatures for the withdrawal of the case.

She distanced herself from the case accusing NUPEA of being behind it although the latter refuted those claims.

On Saturday (March 02, 2024), Kenya Anti-Nuclear Agency chairman Anthony Kingi said he had managed to register 500 members at the Uyombo meeting opposed to the project.

However, what baffled those in attendance was how Senate could receive a petition in October last year and go to release the committee without knowing there was a pending court case against NUPEA.

The case was filed on July 13, 2023 according to the NUPEA boss Wabuyabo.

Again, how could the locals engage the Senate committee knowing very well one of them had filed a case against the planned project at Uyombo Village.

Questions also arise as to why Senator Stewart Madzayo (Kilifi) insisted on the locals to be well-informed when it was in public domain that they (locals) had formed a 13-member committee before the principal secretary.

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