Firm linked to Embakasi explosion now sues EPRA

The wreckage of gas containers at a gas plant involved in the Embakasi gas explosion. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The company claiming to own the premises of the Embakasi gas explosion gas has moved to court to challenge suspension of its license.

The explosion claimed at least seven lives while more than 200 people were injured.

Nevertheless, the court battle between Derdols Tech Services Limited and Derdols Petroleum Limited, against Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) has added a new twist to the matter.

It emerges that Epra had licensed the two firms that were trading as Maxxis Nanyuki Energy for the business of filling liquefied petroleum gas, transport of LPG and petroleum products.

In its case filed before High Court judge John Chigiti, Derdors claims that it received communication from Epra that its licenses had been suspended.

In court, the firm claimed that the cancellation was done without being given an opportunity to respond to the allegations against it.

Derrick Kimathi in his supporting affidavit told the court that he is the Managing Director of the two companies.

He narrated that on February 8, 2024 he received a show cause notice from Epra days after the explosion.

The regulator in the letter claimed that it found out that the company was filling in cylinders belonging to other companies.

Kimathi responded saying that the company had just hired new staff who did not know the protocal.

However, he said, Epra sent another communication that it had decided to suspend the Maxxis’s license owing to the explosion.

Kimathi claimed that he was not given a hearing before the regulator took action.

“ That is unlawful, callous, malicious and fraudulent for the respondent to make such a unilateral decision without notifying the ex-parte applicants. The respondents' actions are punitive and have adverse effects on the Ex- parte applicants' business,” he argued.

“There has never been any intentions from the ex-parte applicants to avoid and or evade and or in any way fail to honor their obligations and in particular those under the petroleum Act 2019,” claimed Kimathi.

Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) detectives have recommended that Kimathi faces seven counts of murder.

Other suspects who were presented before Nairobi Magistrate Dolphins Alego are National Environment Management Authority  (Nema) staff David Walunya Ongare, Joseph Makau and Marrian Muteta Kioko.

Epra said operations at the facility had been stopped after investigations revealed that they were refilling gas cylinders of other brands without authority.

However, at the High Court, it emerged that there were three valid licenses issued by Epra applied on April 8, 2021, May 29, 2023 and October 12, 2023.

Kimathi claimed that the decision to suspend the license would cost his company and his employees who were depending on the business.