Home ECONOMY Owino Uhuru Residents Awarded Sh1.3bn Over Lead Poisoning

Owino Uhuru Residents Awarded Sh1.3bn Over Lead Poisoning

by biasharadigest

The Land and Environment Court in Mombasa on Thursday awarded Owino Uhuru residents Ksh1.3 billion after a hard fought battle in the corridors of justice in a ruling that faulted the State for negligence and exposing the area’s residents to health problems they may never recover from.

In her ruling, Justice Anne Omollo ordered the State to pay Owino Uhuru residents the quoted amount within 90 days or else the latter party will be at liberty to seek the court’s advice on the same.

Lady Justice Omollo ordered the petitioners to pay the amount in the following ratios; the National Environment Management Agency (40%) , Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (10%), the Ministry of Health (10%), Export Processing Zone (10%), the Metal Refinery EPZ (25%) and Former Nyali MP Hezron Awiti’s Penguin and Paper Company (5%).

The court further directed the respondents to to clean-up the soil, water and remove any wastes deposited in Owino Uhuru within 4 months failure to which the State will be due to pay Owino Uhuru residents Ksh700 million.

The court also ordered the Center for Justice Governance & Environmental Action, the petitioner , to coordinate the soil/environmental clean-up exercise.

On top of the damages, the judge also slapped the petitioners with the costs of the case over their casual handling of the matter. This is a big win as the court normally shies away from awarding costs in constitutional petitions.

“The history of this petition reveals non-action by the Respondents inspite of several complaints received from the petitioners and failing to act on their own (respondents) recommendations to remedy the environment. Therefore their inaction having led to the filing of this suit, it is my considered view and I so hold that the petitioners are entitled to costs of the petition,” ruled Justice Omollo.

The court however declined to grant three prayers sought by the petitioners including declaration that the systematic denial of access to information about how exposure to lead would affect them amounted to a violation of the constitutional right to access information.

The case was filed in 2015 by the residents through the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action.

Some 3,OOO Jomvu residents suffered health complications due to toxic emissions from the now-defunct smelting plant, Metal Refinery EPZ Ltd.

The company extracted lead from used car batteries, emitting fumes laden with lead and spewed untreated acid waste water into streams.

It was however shut down in 2014 after causing at least five deaths.

See Also>>>> Gold Mining Exposes Kenyan Women to Mercury Poisoning

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