The National Environment Management Authority has halted the construction of a Sh103 billion fertiliser factory in Eldoret six months after Deputy President William Ruto launched the project.
Nema clarified that construction work of the plant in Ngeria would only start after the Japanese company undertaking the project — Toyota Tsusho — is issued a conditional licence.
Nema’s western regional co-ordinator Barasa Nangwe confirmed that the project had been frozen for 90 days until all issues related to environment, health risk and public participation are addressed.
“Once all the conditions are adhered to, Nema will issue the company that is constructing the fertiliser factory a conditional licence to move on with the work at the proposed site on the Eldoret-Nairobi highway,” said Mr Nangwe.
He said the public had a three-month window to air their comments and views concerning the project before the authority issues a licence by end of March.
This comes in the wake of a row brewing over the project with some residents in Ngeria, the site of the plant, expressing fears the factory may pose a health hazard to them and their livestock.
The residents Tuesday wrote to Nema and Toyota Tsusho East Africa Limited to stop building of the factory citing a “lack of comprehensive environmental impact assessment report” on the fertiliser blending plant, which is 20km from Eldoret along the Eldoret-Nakuru highway.
“As residents living around the factory, we would like you to stop the construction until environmental issues are addressed by the company and your office,” stated the demand notice by the residents to the Nema director-general and Toyota Tsusho.
The dispute could delay completion of the plant that was expected to deliver cheaper fertiliser to farmers next year.
The government estimates that the plant will cut the cost of fertiliser by about 40 per cent, or less than Sh2,000 per 50-kg bag, saving the State billions of shillings in subsidies.
The Treasury spends Sh3 billion annually to provide farmers low-cost fertiliser at Sh1,600 compared to market rate of Sh3,500. The plant is expected to end the perennial shortage of fertiliser in the country, which has in the past exposed farmers to exorbitant prices.
“The proponent of the project, Toyota Tsusho East Africa, have done environment and social impact assessment and submitted it to Nema headquarters,” said Mr Nangwe.