Court shuts Eldoret pole plant over licence

According to the petitioners, the pole treatment plant produces a lot of noise, stench and vibration day and night and its effluence has adversely affected their families' health.
A court has ordered a poles treatment plant to be closed after a 30-day notice for failing to follow the law in obtaining its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence.

Environment and Lands Court in Eldoret judge Anthony Ombwayo further ordered National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) to conduct an audit on Abao Investments Limited to address the environmental issues raised in court.

Families' health

Carolyne Kerubo Omwoyo and Yusuf Mahmoud Athman had sued the company and Uasin Gishu County Government.

According to the duo, the pole treatment plant produces a lot of noise, stench and vibration day and night and its effluence has adversely affected their families' health.

The parents said their children's health and academic performance had been affected by the company, forcing them to transfer them to boarding schools.

The two further accused the county government of failing to control air and noise pollution and to ensure the plant obtained EIA clearance.

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The petitioners told the court that the county government cleared the company for operation without the authority of Nema.

In its response, the firm dismissed the claims, saying Omwoyo and Mahmoud had failed to prove to the court how their children were affected by their operations.

They contended that they followed the law in obtaining the licences and hence their activities were lawful and should not be interfered with.

“The petitioners as well as the members of general public were consulted. Public participation was facilitated through administration of interviews and focus group meetings in the neighbourhood,” Abao told the court.

Justice Ombwayo noted that the petitioners had the legal standing to file the case in the Lands Court and that the National Environment Tribunal was not the right forum to hear constitutional petitions.

He, however, noted that although the petitioners had not proved there was a threat of pollution and diseases caused by the plant, there was no evidence of public participation before the project was approved.

Right procedure

He ruled the right procedure in obtaining the EIA licence was not followed and ordered Nema to conduct an audit in 30 days to address issues raised in the suit.

“The court finds that due process for obtaining the EIA licence was not followed and complied with, and therefore, orders that the plant be closed after expiry of a 30 days’ notice,” he ruled

He went on, “Nema to do an audit of the plant with a view of addressing environmental issues raised by the petitioners.”

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Environmental Impact AssessmenEnvironmental Impact Assessmentnthony OmbwayoNemaAbao Investments LimitedUasin Gishu County