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Police officers injured as Kajiado residents protest against hazardous waste treatment plant

By Peterson Githaiga | January 28th 2017
Bishops and pastors lead residents of Embuyangat in Kajiado County during a protest to oppose a multimillion hazardous waste treatment plant constructed in the area. The plant was closed indefinitely. PHOTO: PETERSON GITHAIGA/STANDARD

Two police officers were injured yesterday during a peaceful protest that turned chaotic at Embuyangat area in Kajiado County.

The officers attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) were part of a group of officers who were dispatched to keep law and order during a demonstration organized by the residents who are opposing the construction of a multimillion hazardous waste treatment plant in the area.

Trouble started when the two officers arrived on foot and were mistaken to be employees of the plant. The residents pelted stones and other crude weapons at the officers run for their dear life.

The officers were forced to fire twice in the air to scare the angry residents who had camped for more than seven hours waiting to be addressed by their Governor Dr David Nkedianye.

However, the situation normalised when the residents realised that the two men were DCI officers and not the workers of the plant.

The more than five hundred agitated residents arrived in the area early in the morning to protest the construction of the plant that includes a laboratory and a disposal unit, saying it has been producing a foul smell.

A contingent of police officers from both Kitengela and Isinya police stations deployed to make sure that the protestors did not interfere with the private premises.

"We will not allow this construction of this incinerator here, it's a health hazard, and dangerous to our environment'' Said Pastor Stephen Tipatet who had led the demonstration.

"Our children, people and even the livestock are disturbed as cases of respiratory problem here is on the rise," added Mr Nathan Kisemei.

Tension remain high in and outside the premises as Governor Nkedianye argued with the plant owner Dr Philip Mwambe.

At one time Mr Mwambe told the Governor that he better die than close down the premises.

''Bwana Governor they can kill me than shut down the machines, I have a huge debt to pay to the bank and I cannot just watch my machines go down'' said Dr Mwambe.

''That is not our business to know whether you want to die or what, we are here so that you can close the company in order to cool down the tension building out there, and you must do it now'' ordered the Governor.

The Governor's order was fulfilled and the plant closed indefinitely.

Speaking to the Standard on phone, Dr Mwabe said he plans to install a new equipment that includes gasification machines which have been approved for safe air emissions because they use methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen that are burned at high temperatures and the energy from them is used to drive electric power turbines.

He said in the initial stages, the plant will be able to produce 100 KW of electric power to be supplied to the neighbouring community and that by mid next year more gasification machines will be added with the aim of achieving a set target of 500 KW of electricity to be added to the national grid.

The company, the largest in East and Central Africa, has been burning toxic material from government and private hospitals across the region for several decades since inception in the 1980s and the new plant hopes to serve more nations to the north and southern of Africa.

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