Summary of Technical Committee Report(June 07,2001)
The Technical Committee is made up by a diverse range of individuals, from both the public and private sectors. There are professionals, community representatives, officials from KenGen, and a member of Parliament on the team, and they are all committed to addressing the issues raised by the community that will be affected by the Sondu-Miriu HPP.
In June of 2001, the Technical Committee Report on Stakeholders Concerns and Grievances was released. It detailed the concerns of the resident of the regions that are impacted by the Sondu-Miriu Hydropower Project. Also included in the report are suggestions for addressing the concerns of these people.
LAND RECOMPENSATION and RESETTLEMENT
Sections 4.1 through 4.1.2 of the report list several problems that were brought to the attention of the Technical Committee (TC) with regards to Land Compensation and Resettlement, such as under compensation or non-compensation for land bought from local residents, the blocking of access roads, etc.
In section 4.1.3, these concerns are addressed, and recommendations are made as to how to minimize the problems. Suggestions include a purchase incentive, general community compensation, etc.
EMPLOYMENT and ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES
Section 4.2 of the report deals with issues raised regarding Employment and Economic Opportunities. Local residents were upset about: a lack of advertisement of job openings, a lack of a centralized employment system, irregularities in employment, problems with workers’ welfare, the possible removal of the project’s water supply pipes at the end of the project, no improvement of access roads, a poor community water supply, a lack of health centers, etc.
Section 4.2.2 lists recommendations for improving the situation, such as: recruitment of local workers, improvement of workers’ rights, amelioration of health centers, leaving water supply pipes to be run by the community after the project is finished, and interviews with the sub-committee.
In section 4.3, the TC lists some issues raised by residents regarding the environment. These include: water leakage in the tunnel and the disappearance of springs, deforestation, soil erosion, water pollution, the risks to river crossing, excessive noise, air pollution by generators, dust pollution, inaccessibility of access roads, interference with fishing, poor sanitation, flooding, silt deposition and salination, and river diversion and ecosystem disturbance issues.
According to section 4.3.2, programs are underway to address leakage in the tunnel, deforestation, erosion, and risks to river crossing. According to the report, water pollution is not a problem, noise levels were normal and just needed adjusting to, air pollution by generators is negligible due to the fact that the generators are not very close to the homesteads, dust has not created any new health problems, and fishing was not significantly affected.
The report also finds that the access roads are difficult to reach, and that the affected community couldn’t reach the river easily to collect river water for daily use. It was found that the systems to prevent flooding are not completely effective as of yet, meaning that heavy rainfall could pose a danger to the downstream community. The impact on life and the aquatic ecosystem in the river that will be caused by reduced river flow is unknown.
Section 4.3.3. gives recommendations as to how these issues should be addressed.
HEALTH and SAFETY
Section 4.4. lists issues and complaints raised by residents regarding health and safety, such as: inadequate health services around the project area, problems with sanitation, faulty drainage systems, dust pollution, semi-treated water, cracked buildings, transportation conditions for employees, accommodation facilities for local drivers and engineers, heavy mosquito infestation, employee safety, water pollution, safety from explosives, and security of property and personnel in the project area.
Section 4.4.2. shows the findings of the committee, such as adequate health care facilities, a well-constructed lagoon, that the lorries taking employees to and from work were over-loaded and sometimes sped, that living conditions for junior employees and engineers are uncomfortable and pose a health/safety hazard, that mosquitoes had in fact infested the project area, that the safety of the employees at work was not completely assured, that magazine zones are poorly guarded and generally quite dangerous, and that the contracted security guards were inadequate and poorly trained.
In section 4.4.3., the TC gives recommendations for alleviating these problems.
Section 4.5. addresses the expectations of the community regarding the project. Section 4.5.2. relates the needs of the affected community, and in section 4.5.3., recommendations are made as to how the quality of life of the locals can be improved.
Section 5.0. concludes the TC’s report: “The Technical Committee in their detailed investigation established that the community complaints and concerns ranged from truths, half-truths and far-fetched allegations. While the local community experienced some disruption and therefore had genuine complaints, it appeared like they had great expectations from the project. The guiding principle maintained in this work was “fact finding” rather than “fault finding” with keen interest on objectivity.
‘It came out clearly that the problems and concerns raised were not entirely unique to Sondu-Miriu Hydropower Project, but are normally associated with large projects of this nature. Some of the key findings of the TC included irregularities in the system of employment and tendering process for local supplies, inadequate compensation for improvements on Land, undetermined effect of river diversion on aquatic ecosystem and the general effect of tunneling on water springs. Also found was the un-established effect of blasting on cracking of buildings. The TC recommendations sought redress of these anomalies, and specialized investigation is mandatory on areas where there is still doubt. Despite some of the findings related to the disputes/concerns, the project was found to be implemented in a professional manner and the problems found in the areas of environment, land compensation, employment, economic opportunities and safety were not way beyond redress, from project implementation point of view.
‘It is the feeling of the Technical Committee members that following the investigations and practical recommendations made which covered many of the issues and problems raised, immediate actions must be taken. There are certain issues which still require continuous monitoring and follow-up to ensure that the project is implemented according to plan and without adverse effects. While the TC recognized that the project implementation has improved in a number of ways by addressing the concerns raised since the stakeholders meeting in January 2001, it is critical that a manned community center or the CLO’s office should be receiving community complaints and facilitate continuous dialogue with the project on any social and environmental consequences that might arise.
‘A major revelation of the investigations is that the communities in the project area require the project to continue to its completion. They recognize its value locally and nationally, and maintain that the benefits that shall accrue from the project far out-weigh the ills that might be associated with it. On this ground it is also agreed that the Technical Committee should be independent and continue with its mandate on behalf of the Assembly of the Stakeholders to the final completion of the project and beyond.”
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