Counties

Reprieve for water firm as court dismisses suit

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Summary

  • In the case filed by Murang’a High School, the water company was accused of infringing the learning institution’s rights to a clean and healthy environment, right to enjoyment of property and trespass to land.
  • The dispute started in April, after the water firm connected one of its clients, James Muchoki, to the main sewer line which is situated on the school grounds.
  • The connection was without the knowledge and consent of the school board of management.

The Environment and Lands court has dismissed a case filed against Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) over interference with the sewerage system and bio-digester of a local school.

In the case filed by Murang’a High School, the water company was accused of infringing the learning institution’s rights to a clean and healthy environment, right to enjoyment of property and trespass to land.

The dispute started in April, after the water firm connected one of its clients, James Muchoki, to the main sewer line which is situated on the school grounds. The connection was without the knowledge and consent of the school board of management.

Justice Grace Kemei heard that due to disrepair, the said sewer was spewing waste onto the school’s playing grounds and that a demand letter urging the company to stop the connections was ignored.

Another complaint was that during the institution’s closure occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, Muwasco together with its client discharged raw waste to the school’s bio-digester.

However, the court heard that the school’s sewerage system in form of a bio-digester and a sewer line were been managed by Muwasco. The client, who owns a property adjacent to the school, had contracted Muwasco to install a sewerage line.

The school’s board wanted court to issue a mandatory injunction restraining Muwasco and its servants from interfering with the sewerage system and the bio-digester. But the court dismissed the case following a finding that the dispute ought to have been filed at the Water Tribunal.

Justice Kemei, while allowing an objection lodged by Muwasco against the case, ruled that where a statute has provided for a mechanism of dispute resolution, the court cannot abrogate that mechanism. She said a litigant must exhaust the said mechanism before moving to the next level.

“A dispute resolution mechanism has been provided for in Section 121 of the Water Act. Section 124 of the Act provides that Appeals from the Tribunal shall be to the Land and Environment Court,” said the judge.