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Lamu’s anti-coal project key crusader Abubakar Al-Amudy dies

Monday June 22 2020
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Save Lamu co-founder Abubakar Mohamed Al-Amudy who died on June 21, 2020. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By KALUME KAZUNGU

Lamu is mourning the demise of a key anti-coal plant crusader and founder of the Save Lamu organisation, Abubakar Mohamed Al-Amudy, who passed on aged 70 years.

Mr Al-Amudy died on Sunday while receiving treatment for pancreatic complications at a Mombasa hospital.

Until his death, Mr Al-Amudy was the Chairman of Save Lamu, an organisation whose vision is to create a culturally, socio-economically and politically empowered community, striving to secure the Lamu community’s natural resources and sustain a green environment.

Mr Al-Amudy, a teacher by profession, became a lover of the environment and subsequently entered into active cultural and environmental activism just years after his retirement in 2005.

PASSION FOR ENVIRONMENT

He founded Save Lamu in 2009 to spearhead environmental safety during the implementation of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) Corridor project which is being constructed at Kililana in Lamu West.

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In April, 2018 Save Lamu’s efforts under his stewardship and through the assistance of Katiba Institute bore fruit when the High Court in Malindi awarded fishermen affected by the Lapsset project Sh1.76 billion as compensation.

Mr Al-Amudy is also widely known for his tough stand against the proposed Sh200 billion Lamu coal-fired power plant.

He has on various occasions led anti-coal plant demonstrations in Lamu Old Town, arguing that the project is harmful both to the environment and health of people.

Despite receiving several warnings and threats even allegedly from State agencies, Mr Al-Amudy, together with other Save Lamu activists, did not retreat but instead insisted on the need for the government to give it up since they would not allow the hazardous coal plant to be set up in the region.

LICENCE CANCELLED

Their effort was successful in June, 2019 when the National Environmental Tribunal (NET) cancelled the coal plant license that had been issued to the project’s investor.

NET cited irregularity on the part of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) in issuing the license to Amu Power Company as required by the law.

The tribunal also faulted the coal project for omitting engineering plans and key facts of the project from public participation as well as failure to take account of the Climate Change Act.

NET also faulted Nema for granting the coal project a license that appeared to be generic and not specific to the project.

DEATH A BLOW

While announcing the passing on of Mr Al-Amudy at the Save Lamu offices on Monday, the organisation’s vice chairman, Mr Mohamed Mbwana, termed the death as a blow not only to the group but to the Lamu community as a whole.

Mr Mbwana said Al-Amudy’s death has left a big void.

“We were aware that our chairman had pancreatic problems and he had even undergone several operations but he was strong and would still find time to participate in various issues affecting our community. Several weeks ago, he was with us launching hand washing centres across Lamu. His death was unexpected and came as a shock to us. May his soul rest in peace,” said Mr Mbwana.

Save Lamu board member Raya Famau called on the youth in the region to follow in the footsteps of Mr Al-Amudy who dedicated most of his life in fighting for the rights of Lamu people and environmental preservation.

“We had hoped that he would get better and come back to us but Allah had different plans for him. We are sad and shocked because we know there will never be any one else like Mzee Al-Amudy. I call upon the youth to follow in the footsteps of Mr Al-Amudy. Let Allah rest his soul in peace,” said Ms Raya.

CONDOLENCE MESSAGES

Area leaders also condoled with the family of the late Al-Amudy.

Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama termed Mr Al-Amudy as a diligent and dedicated elder and activist who had a big heart for the people of Lamu.

“It’s with great shock that I received the news of the demise of Mwalimu Abubakar Al-Amudy, the chairman and co-founder of the Save Lamu organisation. The late Al-Amudy was an astute conservationist and he was well known for his relentless conservation efforts both locally and on the international arena. He led the local communities in championing for inclusivity in decision making, especially in matters of sustainable development in the entire Lamu County. On behalf of the people of Lamu West Constituency, I pass our condolences to his family and the entire conservation fraternity at large. May Allah grant his soul eternal peace,” said Mr Muthama.

Apart from environmental and cultural activism, Mr Al-Amudy is also known for his love for education.

Until his death, he was the manager of Stone Town Academy on Lamu Island.

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