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School will operate next to brewery

By Everlyne Kwamboka | May 2nd 2020

An international school has been given the green light by the court to continue conducting classes barely eight metres from a distillery in Machakos County.

Consequently, when schools open, Kitengela International Schools will deploy security guards to ensure the safety of 305 pupils ranging from playgroup to Class Six as they learn amidst the roar of heavy trucks ferrying materials and alcoholic drinks to London Distillers limited. 

In its verdict, the High Court allowed the school to continue with its operations, saying it was too early for the distiller to claim that the learning institution may in future raise complaints against the factory’s operations despite being on the ground since 1986.

Justice George Odunga said the issue of the school being a step towards crippling the factory’s operations is “speculative” at this stage.

“It cannot be said that it is the natural sequel to the establishment of the said school in order for this court to find that by establishing its school, the 3rd Respondent intends to bring to a halt the operations of the petitioner,” the judge said in his judgement that dismissed the case filed by the distiller.

Lodging complaints

The court pointed out that the possibilities of the school lodging complaints against the factory in future cannot be ruled out, adding that it is not certain that such complaints have any chances of succeeding.

“In my view a case has not arisen where the petitioner’s operations is threatened with stoppage. In other words, the issue of the stoppage of the petitioner’s operations cannot under the circumstances of this case be said to be justifiable,” reads part of the judgement delivered on Thursday.

In the case, the distiller had sued the school, Edermann Property Limited,  Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, Machakos County and the Attorney General for allowing the school to operate next to its facility.

The multi-billion-shilling factory wanted the court to declare the establishment of the school within Great Wall Gardens Housing Development Phase 1 as unlawful and in contravention of the principles established under the Constitution, Children’s Act and the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act. The company also sought for a permanent injunction stopping enrollment of children to the school.

The court was told that Edermann Property that leased the premises to the school had falsely reported to Parliament that it was discharging effluent into Athi River as well as polluting the air with a motive of having it shut down.

According to the company, at no time were its views taken when the use of the residential apartments were being converted to a commercial facility for provision of education services.

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