Hearing of a protracted dispute between an alcoholic drinks firm and a multi-billion-shilling housing project in Athi River has kicked off in Nairobi.

This is after attempts by London Distillers Kenya (LDK) to adjourn hearing by Environment Tribunal on Thursday flopped.

The liquor firm that is challenging the ongoing construction of Sh3.2 billion GreatWall Gardens phase 3 housing project in Athi River, Machakos County by Erdemann Property, had told the tribunal it was not ready to proceed with the matter.

“The industry has filed an application before Judge Angote of ELC (Environment and Land Court) Machakos that is seeking to consolidate the matter at the tribunal with that before that judge,” said LDK lawyer Makongonya Tiego. 

Residents of the housing project had complained that the distiller was emptying toxic wastewater into the surrounding, leading to discomfort and diseases.

LDK had written to National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), arguing that GreatWall Gardens sat on an industrial zone and should, therefore, be brought down.

LDK has made an appeal challenging the Environmental Impact Assessment licence for the project to Erdemann.

Erdemann’s lawyer Tom Ojienda opposed LDK’s application for adjournment, saying there were no orders granted by ELC Machakos stopping the proceedings at the tribunal.

The tribunal allowed the matter to proceed. Benjamin Langwen, a former NEMA employee testified that Erdemann should have done a Strategic Environmental Assessment Report for the project.

The hearing will continue on July 30, when Erdemann is expected to present its witnesses.

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