Kenya Pipeline, Nema face Sh12 billion compensation case over oil spill

Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) depot off Jogoo Road in Nairobi. [File, Standard]

On December 17, 2016, the main Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline burst, spilling volumes of oil around Miasenyi and Majengo Mapya villages, in Taita Taveta County.

Seven years later, residents of the two villages say they are still grappling with the barrenness of their land, and air and water pollution due to oil residues they accuse Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), which owns the oil carrier, of failing to clean up. 

Five applicants, on behalf of 270 affected residents, have filed a case before the Environment and Land Court seeking orders compelling KPC to compensate them. 

In the suit on the alleged pollution of their land and air, Martha Mwakia, Gladys John, Bernard Deghua, Jane Matano and Cyrill Mwavandu, have cited the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) as an interested party.

Impact still persists

“The oil spill completely tampered with the soil and its impact still persists in that the soil is now completely infertile. Further, whenever water pipes burst, oil sips into the drinking water. People are unknowingly drinking and washing using contaminated water. This has had serious effects on their health,” the group argues in its application.

In their case filed by lawyer Kenneth Amondi, the residents lament that to date, there is a choking smell they have to endure.

At the same time, they claim that the soil on their land is barren owing to the effects of oil pollution.

Court documents seen by The Saturday read that plantations in Maisenyi and Majengo farms tend to dry up.

In addition, Amondi argues that the crops and trees that survived yield little or nothing compared to the past before the oil spill.

Respiratory diseases

Further, Amondi argues that from the time the oil spilt, residents have experienced an upsurge of respiratory diseases.

Court documents read that the oil spill has left a toxic and poor air quality with a persistent pungent smell that gets stronger whenever it rains or at night when it is cool.

The residents told the court that the smell is irritating and causes congestion and persistent breathing problems because the air is seriously polluted.

The lawyer asserts that the most affected are school-going children in Maisenyi Primary School, located in the affected area.

In addition, he argues that wild animals are also suffering. According to him, the oil spill contaminated the waters and the mangrove forest.

In effect, Amondi says, birds no longer visit the area while others died from hypothermia.

Accuse Nema

In the meantime, the residents accuse Nema of failing to ensure that their environment is not harmed.

They claim they have contacted the authorities several times seeking restoration of their environment and compensation to no avail.

The residents want the court to award them Sh2 billion. At the same time, they are seeking compensation for the adverse effects of the oil spill on their environment.

According to their lawyer, the court should reach a compensation formula akin to the one between the governments of Mauritius and Japan where they agreed to close to Sh10 billion for the Wakashio Oil Spill clean-up in a closed negotiation. 

The case will be mentioned before Justice Stephen Kibunja on September 29, 2023.