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Consumer lobby backs alcohol firm in pollution row

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A section of the London Distillers plant. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) claims that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) had threatened to close down the factory and argues that the pollution problem in the area cannot be resolved by closing only one factory and leaving the rest.
  • Cofek said the Nema and the County Government of Machakos should be held responsible for any negative health impact on Great Wall Gardens residents for allowing the housing development to come up next to an operating factory.

A consumer body wants the High Court to order government agencies to allow London Distillers Kenya (LDK) Limited to continue operating its Mavoko factory amid a raging dispute with residents of Great Wall Gardens, owned by Edermann Property Ltd, over claims of emptying toxic waste into Athi River.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) claims that the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) had threatened to close down the factory and argues that the pollution problem in the area cannot be resolved by closing only one factory and leaving the rest.

Cofek said the Nema and the County Government of Machakos should be held responsible for any negative health impact on Great Wall Gardens residents for allowing the housing development to come up next to an operating factory.

“That pending the hearing and determination of the petition the court do grant a conservatory order to the interested party (LDK) permitting them to conduct their business without interference from the respondents,” reads one of the orders sought by the Cofek.

The consumer lobby, which claims that LDK is its member, accuses Machakos County of allowing a mixed user approval leading to the current problem.

The Cofek says London Distillers had been operating the factory in the area long before Edermann Property Ltd was licensed to develop residential property next to the plant.

The consumer body has also listed the National Assembly of Kenya as one of the respondents.

The National Assembly Environment Committee in September last year gave London Distillers six months to put in place technology to manage waste from its factory or risk being shut down.

Great Wall Gardens residents accused the distiller of failure to put in place the appropriate technology in the management of waste.

The company employs 1,000 people and makes the Meakins, Napoleon, Kenya King and Safari brands of alcohol.

The committee carried out investigations into operations of the firm after the residents of Great Wall Gardens and adjacent areas filed a petition in which they accused the alcohol-maker of subjecting them to health hazards.

The House committee in its report pointed out that there were issues of environmental concern noting that families, especially expectant mothers and children, could suffer from long-term health complications if nothing was done.

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