Kenya;the Sondu-Miriu Hydropower Project

NGO Coalition


letter to the Japanese Government
on the Technical Committee on SMHPP

(Sep 24,2001)


P.O Box 76479 Nairobi - Kenya Tel:254-2-56.40.40 Fax:254-2-57.37.37 Email


24th September 2001

Ms. Makiko Tanaka
Foreign Minister
Government of Japan
Tokyo - Japan

Mr. Masajuro Shiokawa
Finance Minister
Government of Japan
Tokyo - Japan

Mr. Takeo Hiranuma
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
Government of Japan
Tokyo - Japan

Dear Madam and Sirs

Re: Technical Committee on Sondu-Miriu Hydro-Power Project (SMHPP)

We, the NGO Coalition on SMHPP wish to once again reiterate our grievances with the Technical Committee (TC). We are also aware of the negative impacts which have been brought upon the communities by the above project. It is in recognition of these impacts and following strong lobbying by the NGO Coalition that the project implementers agreed to form a Technical Committee (TC) on 26 January 2001 at the Project Office, to review the Project and find solutions to community grievances. At its first meeting, the TC agreed to form 4 Technical Sub-Committees (TSC), i.e., Land Compensation and Resettlement, Employment and Economic Opportunities, Environment, and Health and Safety TSCs. Each TSC was mandated, in its respective area of focus, to identify, investigate and come up with recommendations with a view to resolving the affected community grievances. Nine months after its formation, the TC has been rendered ineffective and also subjected to manipulation by KenGen and other SMHPP implementers who have consistently disregarded the TSC’s recommendations. The Coalition therefore believes that in order for the Technical Committee to achieve its original goals, be more effective and efficient, and also restore the faith of the stakeholders, it has to be restructured urgently. The following proposals would contribute significantly towards that end:

1)Composition of the Technical Committee
The current composition of the TC is not representative of all interest groups. The majority of the members of the TC are composed mainly of KenGen nominees. There are no professionals with the capacity or technical know-how to tackle some of the complex nature of issues in the project. We therefore propose that the TC be expanded to include professionals (e.g., geologists, hydrologists, air and water pollution experts, legal experts, sociologists, economists, etc) who can tackle the complex issues arising from the project. We propose that in line with your reference to the World Bank in all your project documents, it would be appropriate to draw such expertise from the World Bank for both short-term and long term monitoring and evaluation of the project. We also recommend that the following interest groups be represented in the TC: representatives of Youth, Women and Employees from the affected communities.

2)Memorandum of Understanding
We strongly recommend that the TC be made a legal entity with a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between KenGen and the affected Community.

KenGen’s Chairmanship of the TC is solely protecting its own as well as the implementers interests instead of adhering to and implementing the resolutions of the various TSC meetings. We therefore propose that a neutral person of integrity who has no connection to KenGen be endorsed by all parties to replace the KenGen Chairmanship immediately.

We have noted that the proceedings of the TC are only open to certain stakeholders or those favoured by KenGen. We propose that, henceforth, the proceedings of the TC be open to other interested observers as SMHPP is a public project.

5)Harassment of the NGO Coalition members in TC meetings
We deplore and find as unacceptable the continuos harassment of the NGO Coalition representatives at TC meetings by TC members who are agents of KenGen. This clearly goes against the spirit of goodwill, confidence-building and cooperation which we believe is necessary for the successful implementation of this project. Even at the recent TC meeting of 21 September 2001, a member of the NGO Coalition was thrown out of the meeting. This is not only humiliating but equally frustrating to the NGO Coalition. Also, we have asked KenGen repeatedly to withdraw the trumped up case against the NGO Coalition Coordinator, Mr Argwings Odera, but they have refused, an act which does not augur well in terms of confidence-building, goodwill spirit, and human rights record of the project.

6)Auditing of the Project
Kenya is classified by Transparency International (TI) as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It is this reputation which is making the NGO Coalition insist on proper auditing of the SMHPP in order to ensure that the loan from the Japanese Government is being properly spent. Moreover, the recent financial scandal over KenGen’s payment of Ksh.157Million (US$2Million) involving some KenGen officials is still in court.

Madam and Sirs, we believe that your intervention in this matter along the above suggested lines, would help strengthen the TC and assist it in achieving its goals effectively and expeditiously. We would particularly appreciate if KenGen would resolve the above issues at the earliest.

Yours Sincerely

Grace Akumu, Ms
Executive Director
Climate Network Africa
For and on behalf of:

NGO Coalition on SMHPP

-M.D, KenGen
Stima Plaza, Nairobi

-Ambassador, Japanese Embassy
ICEA Building, Nairobi

-Chief Representative, JBIC
International Life House, Nairobi



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