Why locals are opposed to GDC’s project

Residents of Ol-rongai and Kabazi wards of Rongai and Subukia constituencies respectively have opposed the proposed Phase 2 of Geothermal Development Company project at Tulbowmoi area.

The irate residents told National Environment Management Authority-NEMA that they are against the project due to numerous negative environmental impacts to them.

The locals led by Timothy Ng’etich cited air pollution, health hazards and displacement of over 30,000 locals as the main reason they are against the project.

They also GDC for coming up with Environmental Assessment Impact report which was submitted to NEMA yet there was no public participation.

“We are against this project for several reasons among them pollution, health hazards and displacement of people. We are not ready for such.

They spoke during a Friday meeting with a team from NEMA at Tulbowmoi primary school, Ol-rongai.

During the heated meeting chaired by Nakuru North Deputy County Commissioner Geoffrey Mayama on behalf of Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui, the locals voiced their opposition to a secret plan by GDC and Sosian energy Company to displace over 30,000 locals from their farms to pave way for exploration of geothermal in the area.

The locals had petitioned NEMA after an impact assessment report showed harmful effects of the planned activities.

Area leaders led by Kabazi MCA Dr.Peter Mbae, Rongai Politician Kibet Komen,Nominated MP Sammy Seroney and Subukia MP Samuel Gachobe also stood with the locals’ position that the project cannot go on.

MCA Mbae noted that the people of Menengai have suffered for many years with the GDC projects in the caldera hence they cannot allow more suffering.

He added that as leaders they cannot be compromised at the expense of the lives of the locals.

“The only thing as leaders we can do is to ensure the lives of our people are well taken care of. We cannot accept any project that has health hazards on the people and that is why we are saying no to this project” said Mbae.

Sentiments echoed by Komen who faulted GDC and Sosian Energy Company for not following the right procedure as far as the project is concerned.

He said the Geothermal Company has an apology to render to the people of Ol-rongai.

“We cannot participate in a public participation where GDC is a party. We have a great case with GDC and we want them to have a day with us and ask for forgiveness.

Subukia MP Samuel Gachobe on his part reiterated that no any day did GDC involve opinion leaders as well as locals in the proposed project.

“No opinion leader was invited and we cannot allow GDC to come and make our people suffer for the sake of project” said Gachobe.

Nominated MP Sammy Seroney warned GDC that if the law on public participation was not adhered to then he shall be launching a legal battle.

He refuted claims that there was an impact assessment study for the claimed proposed wells for exploration est.

“ The project should be subjected to public participation as required by the law failure to which the locals have a right to recall the same” he said.

GDC Regional Manager Paul Ngugi had a difficult time in addressing the locals who had made up their mind that the project will not go on due to the negative impacts it has to them.

It had to have the interventions of the National NEMA officials led by Marion Kioko from Environmental Assessment Impact Unit.

Ms Kioko assured the locals that their views had been noted in the minutes and that a report will be compiled either in support of the project or otherwise.

She was however quick to note that the Proposed Geothermal project is yet to be licensed as there are several steps before issuance of license.

“As NEMA we want to assure residents that the right procedure will be followed and from today’s meeting a report shall be compiled based on your views before action is taken” said Ms Kioko.

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