The High Court Friday gave a company that dumped poisonous asbestos waste in land associated with the family of a former Chief Justice Kitili Mwendwa in Kitui County a 15 day ultimatum to remove and dispose of the poisonous cargo currently quarantined at Kitui Stadium.
Justice A O Angote, sitting in Machakos, also barred Kitili’s son-Maluki Kitili Mwendwa and the company- Sonata Limited- from depositing any hazardous waste in Kiongwe Valley LR Number Nzambani/ Maluma/ 690, pending the hearing of a suit filed by the Kitui County Government against the pair.
Today’s order signifies a major victory for Kitui Governor Kaluki Ngilu who made an election pledge to protect Kitui people from the poisonous effects of the asbestos waste that Maluki and Sonata Ltd buried at Kiongwe valley, endangering the lives of thousands of residents who draw water from streams originating from the area marked as a water tower.
The judge partially allowed prayers sought by the County Government of Kitui in an Environment and Land Court Petition Number 2 of January 16, 2018. The petition was prosecuted by Lead Counsel Mr. Simon Malonza. Mr. Malonza is assisted by lawyers Mr. Davidson Makau and Marriane Mutuvi.
The judge also slapped undisclosed costs of the removal of the waste to Sonata Ltd and directed that the company, Nema and Maluki pays costs of the application to the County Government.
“ A mandatory injunction be and is hereby issued compelling the 1st respondent to identify and relocate the asbestos which had been deposited on the suit land to a different and suitable site, within fifteen(15) days, for disposal of the waste in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act pending the hearing and determination of the petition” said Justice Angote.
The County Government has listed as respondents Messers Sonata Kenya Limited, Maluki Kitili Mwendwa, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) as Ist, 2nd and 3rdrespondents. Incidentally, Maluki is the immediate former NEMA Chairman.
In the petition, the government is seeking 9 prayers that include a declaration that Sonata Kenya Limited is in breach of Article 42 of the Constitution of Kenya and that the act of dumping asbestos waste in Kiongwe valley in connivance with Maluki, had denied the residents of Kitui County the right to a clean and healthy environment as guaranteed in Article 42 of the Constitution, thus leading to a breach of the Constitution.
The government also seeks and order for the restoration of Kiongwe valley to its original state before it was violated by dumping of the poisonous waste and refund of tax payers’ money that the County Government used to remove the waste.
The suit follows the removal of the asbestos from the site that is also claimed by the Mwendwa family on instructions by Mrs. Ngilu soon after being sworn into office.