A Sh75 billion wind power project in Marsabit County will continue even as a dispute over a 150,000-acre land earmarked for it rages in court.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power project will however be restricted to only 87.5 acres, initially, pending the hearing and determination of the case filed at the High Court in Meru.
On Monday, Mr Justice Peter Njoroge set the stage for the duel when he instructed the parties to file their written submissions and other relevant documents within 14 days ahead of the hearing on January 19, next year.
This followed an agreement by lawyers on the modalities of submitting their written arguments before the court.
The wind farm is to be established near Loiyangalani in Marsabit County, 10 kilometres east of Lake Turkana.
It is envisaged that the project will inject 330 megawatts to the national grid and cut power costs by more than 50 per cent.
It is supported by the United Nations and the United States Government under President Barack Obama’s Green Energy Revolution.
In the case, residents of Laisamis Constituency and Karare Ward are contesting the awarding of the 150,000 acres to Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd for the project.
The company is listed as the first respondent alongside Marsabit County Government, the Attorney-General, Chief Lands Registrar and the National Land Commission.
The listed applicants are Mr Mohamud Iltarakwa Kochale, Kochale Somo Jale, Issa Jitewe Gambare, David Tamasot Arakhole, Willian Legoyiap, and Sekotey Seye. They represent the Rendille, Samburu, El Molo and Turkana communities.
They contend that due process as stipulated under Section 13 of the Trust Land Act was not followed in the leasing of the land.
There was also no public consultation, no notice given for the setting apart of the land and that no Divisional Board was constituted as required by Section 13 (2) of the Trust Land Act, the plaintiffs argued in the application filed on their behalf by Sagana, Biriq & Co Advocates.
The mainly pastoralist communities also contend that the project will block their access to Lake Turkana waters, as it cuts across a livestock corridor.
The project also covers a site they use for their religious pilgrimages, and would interfere with their cultural beliefs.
But lawyer Mohamed Nyaoga, for Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd. maintains that the firm held numerous public barazas and stakeholder meetings in the environs of the project site from April 2006, at which local communities assured it of their support.
Mr Nyaoga also contends that the company was in lawful occupation of the disputed land with a 33-year leasehold title which has been in effect since March 1, 2009 at an annual rent of Sh390,000 granted by the Marsabit County Council.
Of the 150,000 acres, only 40,000 are for the actual project infrastructure while 110,000 acres will be a buffer zone to allow the wind to reach the turbines, he said.
More than 100 residents of Marsabit County flocked the Meru Law Courts compound jamming the courtroom, corridors and every available space as they followed the proceedings.
Speaking after the day’s proceedings, resident David Timado expressed confidence that they would get justice.
“We hired a bus while others came by private means from Marsabit because we want know what is going on,” he said.