Residents protest against quarrying on Maai Mahiu escarpment

Residents' uproar led to the government order the quarry on the Maai Mahiu escarpment to close amid environmental concerns. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The government has ordered the immediate closure of all quarrying activities on the Maai Mahiu escarpment following protests by residents.

On Friday, hundreds of residents from Namucha village marched to the Ministry of Environment in Nairobi to demand action against a quarry operated by a Chinese company.

They claimed that the quarry was destroying the environment, polluting the air, and threatening the water sources on the escarpment.

They also accused the local authorities of being complicit in the matter and ignoring their complaints.

“We have heard your grievances. We don’t want you to lack water. As we speak, NEMA enforcement team is on its way to close the quarry,” Environment Principal Secretary Festus Ngeno told the protesters.

The residents, led by Solomon Saitoti and Ben Kaete, said that they feared several rivers flowing from the Maai Mahiu escarpment would dry up due to the quarrying activities.

Environment Principal Secretary Festus Ngeno with National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Director Genera Mamo B. Mamo address Maai Mahiu residents in NAkuru. [Boniface Okendo,Standard] 

“This quarry was started three years ago. As you can see, it’s on the escarpment. Hundreds of trees were cut leading to environmental degradation. We fear there will be landslides in future if they do not stop their operations,” said Dolman Lerru, the chairman of Namuncha Maasai Community.

They also said that the company was cutting down more trees to expand their operations, posing a threat to Ewaso Kedong River that flows from the rocks of the Maai Mahiu escarpment.

Several families have been forced to relocate due to cracks in their houses, falling rocks and dust caused by the quarry.

The residents vowed to continue their protests until the quarry is completely shut down and the environment restored.