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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Law must be followed in resolving distillery saga

The Legislature appears to be overreaching in
The Legislature appears to be overreaching in this matter. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The unending back and forth exchanges between Parliament, London Distillers Kenya (LDK) and real estate developer Erdemann Property is unnecessary and should be resolved through strict application of the law.

What would on the surface appear like an open and shut case over compliance with the law has created confusion and muddies up administration of justice and demarcation of powers by agencies.

LDK, as we understand it, has been distilling spirits at the site Mavoko factory for, as it says, three decades. On the other side Erdemann is seeking to put up a multi-storey residential building near the plant that it says is polluting the air.

The latest twist, however, is that Parliament’s Committee on Implementation of House Resolutions has ordered LDK to stop the alleged pollution. The committee has ordered the National Environment Management Committee (Nema) and the Environment ministry to file a compliance report on the factory within six weeks.

The Legislature appears to be overreaching in this matter.

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Nema should ideally be left to independently deal with the matter before MPs’ meddling, even as we admit it is Parliaments’ right to intervene where any State agency is not rightfully performing its role. It helps that the matter has now been narrowed to the issue of pollution, other than the myriad other complaints raised before.

The protracted saga raises a number of questions regarding the multiple players in the controversy and their competency. Why did Nema allow both the distiller and the developer to co-exist at the same place? Is Nema or any of the other players compromised?

The role of Machakos county government also comes to mind. LDK says the location is an industrial area, but why did they collect levies from both parties and expect them to co-exist?

At the end of the day, we expect Nema and the Machakos county government to do their job and leave the House to do its legislative work.

Various arms and levels of government must operate competently and independently, though inter-dependently, to avoid hurting investors and residents of the areas they put money in.

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