NAIROBI, Kenya May 15 – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has defended its position to have the Kibos and Allied Sugar factory in Kisumu County closed over pollution.
The agency’s Director-General Mamo Mamo told members of the Senate Agricultural Committee on Friday during a virtual meeting that the sugar miller has on numerous occasions failed to comply with air quality regulations with the dating back 15 years.
In a detailed presentation submitted before the Peter Ndwiga (Embu)-led committee, Mamo said that there was “a persistent non-compliance with NEMA order”.
“We had a long compliance journey from 2004 to date to support Kibos and help comply with provisions of emission regulations,” he said.
Kibos factory was temporarily closed last month but the company immediately challenged the decision at the Environment and Land Court in Kisumu with Justice Anthony Ombwayo issuing stay orders.
Already, there is a case at the Supreme Court challenging the resumption of operations at the factory.
Mamo said whereas the agency is fully aware of the repercussion that may be occasioned by the closure of the factory in terms of thousands of job losses, it was upon the factory to fully comply with the regulations.
The factory had been given 30 days from February 5 to install the system but failed to comply.
“We feel for the farmers and loss of livelihoods but we have a duty to safeguard the environment and public health emergency especially the poor children exposed to the pollutants on daily basis those who have challenge to the sight,” he said.
Among the regulations that NEMA wants the factory to comply with is the installation of an effective air pollution control systems at the boiler, undertake a comprehensive ambient air quality analysis including air dispersion modelling and submit a compliance plan that shall include the management of particulate matter.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei however, read mischief on the closure wondering whether it was politically motivated.
“This is a PR political witch-hunt against Kibos company so that the cartels can have the opportunity to import sugar from outside the country,” he said.
Mamo however dismissed the allegations and noted that the agency was principally guided by facts and the environmental guidelines stipulated in law.
The committee Chair Senator Ndwiga also defended the agency and noted that their business was purely in premised on safeguarding the environment.
“NEMA is not about the famers but about the environment,” he said.
Mamo however, assured the Senators that the agency will comply with the determination that would be made by the apex court regarding the pending case.