As part of my fellowship at International Accountability Project (IAP), I am exposed with the projects that had gone wrong so to speak that are financed by multilateral development banks. IAP is a human rights organization that works for a world in which all people can shape the decisions that affect their homes, environment and the communities. Furthermore, IAP believes that development should be a process that enables all people to uphold and claim their human rights, live with dignity and thrive on the land they love.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Aly Sagne, Executive Director of Lumière Synergie pour le Développement (LSD) based in Senegal in raising their concerns to the World Bank and to US related agencies. In November 2009, the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved the financing of US$ 54 million for the Sendou Coal Power Project. Accordingly the Project is aimed to develop, construct, operate and maintain a coal power plant that will produce annually at least 925 GWh of electricity with the equivalent to 40% of the currently annual production. This is an ongoing Category 1 Project with co – financing from West African Development Bank (BOAD) and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO). A complaint has been filed by Takkom Jerry, a member of the directly affected communities of about 36,000 persons, to AfDB’s Compliance Review and Mediation Unit (CRMU), BOAD and FMO last May 2016. The said complaint was also technically supported by Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Both ENDS and Lumière Synergie Développement.
The scope of the project includes the development, construction, operation and maintenance of a 125 MW coal-fired power plant on a 29 ha site located 35 km from Dakar in Sendou (Bargny). The project company, Compagnie D’Electricite du Senegal, will build the 225 kV transmission line and associated switchyard to connect the plant to Senelec’s interconnected grid. Senelec is the country’s national electricity company.
According to project documents, the coal will be transported by truck along the paved road linking the port of Dakar to the project site, which is approximately 30 km away from Dakar. A new four-lane toll highway is being constructed near the site into Dakar. It is expected to be operational before the project enters into commercial operation. Dubai World was also awarded with the right to construct a multipurpose harbor at Bargny, which is near to the power plant site. The said harbor is also expected to handle coal.
Environmental and human rights concerns. The project site is located near the village of Minam. Without land reserves available in the area, the affected communities is also subject to the possible consequences of coastal erosion and displacement. Furthermore, local community claims that they were not informed about the impacts of the project and displaced community members have not been adequately compensated. The project also violates the environment Code, in particular Article L 13 which states that ‘’installations classified 1 should be built at least 500 meters from housing’’.
The communities have also raised the impacts of environmental pollution to the sea. There is also absence of any agreement with the rights – holders of the land titles, no compensation package and lack of an agreed Resettlement Plan.
Health risks. SOCCOCIM, a cement factory located less than two kilometers from Sendou project is already affecting the village of Minam. A 250 MW coal – fired power plant is also said to be a project in the pipeline, which will be located near to Sendou. There is no clear study on the cumulative impacts particularly on the health risks to the community on these three projects.
Livelihood impacts. The project deprived local populations of their land and their cultural heritage (located in the site), which will affect the means of subsistence of over a thousand women and as many fishermen, and would present serious risks to the environment, health and well being of 52, 000 villagers.
Even at the onset of the project, local communities were asking project developers to relocate the project, which does not comply with the national law and the banks safeguards policy both at the AfDB and FMO. Today, as the country discovered big oil and gas reserve, local communities would consider accepting the project with option changes to use natural gas. However, all mitigation measures should be fairly negotiated with all affected peoples.