Victims of the Solai dam tragedy which killed 47 people have sued for compensation.
In the petition, which High Court judge Rose Ougo certified as urgent, the plaintiffs say various State departments infringed on their constitutional rights through failure to ensure their safety.
The victims and their dependents want the court to direct that they be provided with shelter, medical treatment, food and other basic necessities.
They asked the court to compel proprietors of the dam to provide them with temporary classrooms for hundreds of their children whose schools were destroyed when the walls of the dam collapsed.
“The petitioners’ children’s education has been interrupted as their schools were ravaged by floods arising from the collapse of Milmet Dam owned, controlled and managed by the Solai Group of Companies,” their lawyers told the court.
The suit names Perry Patel Mansukhlal Kansagra, Solai Group of Companies, Kensalt Limited, Patel Coffee Estate Limited, Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Water Resources Authority, National Enviroment Management Authority, National Construction Authority, and the Attorney-General as defendants.
“There have been instances of intimidation and coercion by the defendants compelling victims of the dam tragedy to accept monetary payments dubbed as waivers to future claims in the matter,” Godfrey Onyango, the chairman of the Justice and Enviroment Foundation which is behind the suit said.
Patel Coffee Estates Managing Director Perry Mansukhlal appears before a Senate committee investigating the Solai dam tragedy, on July 18, 2018. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Victims of the Solai dam tragedy that left at least 46 people dead have sued the government and the proprietor for compensation.
In the petition certified as urgent by High Court Judge Rose Ougo, the claimants say their constitutional and fundamental rights were infringed by various state departments which failed to adequately asses the safety of the dam.
The compensation being sought has not been quantified.
They want the court to order the dam’s owner, Perry Mansukhlal Kansagra, to provide them with basic amenities.
The case was filed by lawyer Ronald Ochieng Onyango for the Justice and Environment Foundation (JEF) and five other petitioners.
“The petitioners children’s education has been interrupted as their schools were ravaged by floods arising from the collapse of Milmet Dam owned by Solai Group of Companies,” Mr Onyango, who is being second chaired by Mr Kimutai Bosek, said.
The respondents are Mr Kansagra, Solai Group of Companies, Kensalt Limited, Patel Coffee Estate Limited, Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Water Resources Authority, National Environment Management Authority, National Construction Authority and the Attorney-General.
Justice and Environment Foundation chairperson Godfrey Onyango, who filed the evidence, wants the case determined quickly for the sake of the victims.
“There have been instances of intimidation and coercion by some people compelling the victims of the May 9 dam tragedy to accept monetary payments dubbed as waivers to future claims in the matter,” Mr Onyango says.
He adds that the petitioners are vulnerable, hence “in dire need of protection”.
The other claimants are Isaac Chege, Peter Macharia, Peter Mugi, Jane Njuguna, Elzabeth Waiharo and Jane Wangui.
They said the victims are susceptible to diseases owing to the harsh whether conditions.
The case will be heard on July 31.
JEF aims to educate worker’s on their rights especially those working within the flower farms industry. This has been necessitated by the need to create public awareness on their health which could be affected by exposure to chemicals which they work with and are exposed to on a daily basis. Majority of the employees have been retired on medical grounds after having been exposed to different chemicals over a long period of time. JEF’s aim is to create awareness and enlighten these workers to ensure correct use of PPE’s and to keep vigilant to ensure that they seek appropriate medical intervention early enough to reduce the number of deaths associated with chemical poisoning.
JEF is working with various partners both locally and internationally to assist the workers to seek legal redress and timely medical intervention.
JEF has been involved with Mau Mau cases from 2012 where is has been at the focus of locating and signing up thousands of mau mau torture victims. Ronald who is the Founder of JEF was instrumental in starting the current mau mau case at Ashton Fox Solicitors in 2011. He then set up a similar mau mau department at GT Law Solicitors and also at Knights Law solicitors where he is a Consultant Solicitor.
The project aims to assist the victims to seek compensation from the UK Government. JEF has been involved in meeting and assisting clients to seek compensation from Kasikeu, Meru and in Naivasha regions of Kenya.
Over and above the compensation, the mau mau will require to be educated on how to best utilise any compensation they get. JEF has a strong tram who are dedicated and having dealt with these vulnerable people, will guide them accordingly.
The mau maus are also in their advanced ages and will require constant taking care of as they are in their sunset days.