State asks court for more time to file report on disaster prevention

Mathare residents doing laundry along a swollen Nairobi River on May 11, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The government is yet to file a report on its plan to prevent disasters caused by floods and landslides following heavy rains.

Nakuru High Court judge Samwel Mohochi had ordered the State to prepare and file a contingency plan for the disasters prevention, surveillance and mitigation.

The order was issued after the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) sued Cabinet Secretaries for Interior, Education, Transport and Environment, National Disaster Management Authority and the Attorney General.

However, on Monday, Sonia Wanjeri, the State Counsel, said the government needed more time to file its report. Lawyer Geoffrey Bosire, representing LSK, raised no objection.

Mohochi said the case would be dispensed by way of written submissions and granted the government 10 days to file its response.

LSK was given 14 days to file submission while the government will have 20 days.

The court also admitted Natural Justice Kenya as an interested party.

The LSK wants a declaration that the government’s ignorance of the flash floods is a violation of the Constitution.

The society wants the CSs for Transport, Infrastructure and Housing compelled to inform the court how the government plans to resettle those displaced.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki has also been faulted for allegedly failing to tell the public about the risks, prevention and response of floods, mudslides and other related effects.

“The government also failed to provide emergency contacts or media for the public to seek, access and share information concerning the heavy downpour,” argues LSK.

“Roads, schools and hospitals have been rendered unsafe for use with schools opening postponed twice,” LSK submits.

According to lawyers, on August 30, 2023, the CS Environment and Climate Change issued a weather forecast indicating that El Nino rains would be experienced from October to December last year.

The CS warned of flash floods, landslides and mudslides in several parts of the country. The CS, the society notes, communicated on February 29, this year, that above-average rainfall will be experienced in April and May.

However, LSK submits that the government refused to heed to the advisory.

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