Nema on the spot for allowing gas project
The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) is on the spot for approving the construction of a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) store in Mombasa despite stiff opposition from stakeholders.
Last Friday, Mombasa residents Abdulrahman Ochieng’ and Habil Hagai filed a petition at the National Environment Tribunal seeking to stop the project.
Under a certificate of urgency, the two want the tribunal to nullify the approval on grounds that the stakeholders, who include Kenya Navy and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), did not give the project the green light.
“Nema proceeded to issue an EIA licence despite unfavourable location of the site and unquantifiable threat posed to the hundreds of residents of the area and both marine and dry environment surrounding the proposed site,” the petition through lawyer Hassan Abdiaziz reads in part.
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Nema defied concerns from other State agencies including KPA, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), to grant the licences to two firms.
Mansa and Mombasa Gas Terminal Limited were issued with clearance for the construction of an onshore storage and filling facility. The project will cost an estimated at Sh7.5 billion.
Already the works, which will be done in three phases, have commenced. The first phase will be completed in November.
Last week, ERC, the energy sector regulator, rejected an invitation to attend the launch of construction of the plant, saying no permit has been issued allowing construction of the facility.
“The commission notes that Mansa East Africa Limited is yet to obtain a construction permit for the proposed project and proceeding with the ground-breaking ceremony prior to obtaining the permit would be in breach of the law,” ERC Director General Pavel Oimeke wrote on April, 2, 2019 to Mansa East Africa Director Njuki Mwaniki.
KPA and KFS have opposed the construction of the facility, saying it not only endangers ships docking at the port, but also threatens safety of schools around Bandari College and the neighbouring Liwatoni.
“We have observed that the point where they want to put the LPG off-loading plant and storage is in a most dangerous place, that is, at the mouth of Kilindini Port. It is also most hazardous to shipping route and ferry operation area as well as a highly populated area; considering the highly flammable nature of LPG. We have a lot of reservations on this project and therefore we reject the proposal on these grounds,” KFS wrote to the Nema on May 2, 2018.
KPA’s Head of Contracts and Conveyancing Michael Sangoro wrote on October 2, 2018 to Touchwood Investments Ltd that has leased land from the Authority. “The user clause and interest of the authority as a port operator is not to have a LPG storage facility on that location adjacent to the only channel on the port (which adversely affects the standing of KPA as it would violate the best international maritime safety standards), and is behind Bandari College in a densely populated neighbourhood of Ganjoni-Liwatoni.”
Mombasa Yatch Club asked Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho to intervene. “This construction by Mansa East Africa Ltd is an existential threat to us after serving the harbour for over 100 years,” the club’s Vice Commodore Philips Jones wrote on April 10, 2019.
Although on September 20, 2018 Nema, through the director compliance and enforcement Stephen Kitunga had rejected the proposed site as not being ideal for the gas facility, the authority issued a clearance on February 14, 2019.
“Construction of a small LPG imprt storage and terminal plant of 1,000 MT above ground floor, 10,000 MT floating storage vessel and other associated facilities and amenities on L.R No. Block XLVII/173 within Carmco supply base, Mombasa County has been reviewed and a licence is hereby issued,” the approval signed by Nema Director General Godfrey Wahungu said.
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