Counties

Murang'a factory in smoke, noise pollution suit closed

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The High Court has ordered a factory in Murang’a to cease operations after residents complained it was polluting the environment. PHOTO | COURTESY

The High Court has ordered a factory in Murang’a to cease operations after residents complained it was polluting the environment by emitting a foul smell and making unbearable noise.

Justice Lucy Gacheru ordered the Afrimac Nut Company, which makes charcoal briquettes from macadamia husks, to stop operations, stating that the residents, including veteran lawyer David Mereka, have a right to a clean environment.

The judge said evidence presented before her showed that the environmental impact assessment report from the National Management Authority (Nema), and the licence to operate the factory, were obtained without public participation.

“Having analysed the evidence and issued as above, the court finds and holds that the plaintiffs’ right to clean and healthy environment was infringed and the plaintiffs need protection,” said the judge.

Justice Gacheru cancelled the licence, saying Mr Mereka and the residents of Nginda in Murang’a South had proved that there was a breach of a clean and healthy environment.

The lawyer and John Mbote sued the company, which started operations in May 2019, arguing that their rights to a clean environment were being threatened.

The lawyer said the plant produces excessive smoke with an acrid smell and unbearable noise. He added that their complaints to the Nema offices had been ignored. The lawyer said the company did not obtain a change of use to operate the factory and if any, it was then illegally acquired.

Mr Mbote said the plant operated for 24 hours and neighbours complained of noise and that it had caused the deaths of livestock and children experiencing persistent coughs.

The company denied the claims, saying it lawfully put up the project and followed due process by obtaining approvals from relevant agencies and conducting public participation.

On the emissions, the court heard that it was due to a manufacturer’s defect on one of the machines but it has since been rectified. On its part, Nema said it issued the licence based on submissions of Mazingira & Engineering Consultants Ltd that were assessed on behalf of the factory owner.

“Having considered the available evidence and submissions thereon, the court finds that the plaintiffs have proved their case on the required standard that there was indeed a breach of their right to a clean and healthy environment,” said the judge.

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