NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 16 – Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and his Environment counterpart Keriako Tobiko are on Tuesday expected before the Ad-hoc Senate Committee investigating the May 9 Solai Dam tragedy.
Tobiko who will be appearing first before the Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr led team is expected to give a brief on the measures his ministry is taking to restore the environment after the 200,000 cubic metre facility collapsed and killed 47 lives.
The Committee had issued invitations for Matiangi to among others brief Senators on what actions his ministry has taken on allegations that the area provincial administration under supervision of the County Commissioner were forcing the victims to sign indemnity forms that bar the victims from pursuing further claims.
The Senate team which toured site two weeks ago had a hectic time calming emotions as victims and their families shouted down the government administrator accusing him of creating a fake list of victims.
The Senate Committee had recommended that Matiangi suspends the Nakuru County Commissioner “for complicity.”
“We recommended in that in interim the CS must suspend the National Government officials who have been seen to participate in a partisan manner in the question of Solai. We do not understand how the County Commissioner can be the one issuing out payouts on behalf of the owner of the dam while the same government is investigating the owners of the dam,” the Makueni Senator directed.
“Your officials appear to be sabotaging the case by the government. If your County Commissioner is issuing indemnity forms while the matter is in court. Our concern is that the government has approved charges yet while Patel answers questions in Naivasha, it issues indemnity forms.”
Interior Chief Administrative Secretary Patrick ole Ntutu said the ministry was not aware of the compensation process and had not issued such instructions to any of its officers in Nakuru.
During their visit to the site two weeks ago, the Senate team learnt that some of the 223 households left displaced jeered the County Commissioner and area chiefs accusing them of duping them into signing off their liability claims in exchange for a Sh100,000 payout.
Traders whose businesses were affected were also required to sign a similar indemnity form being circulated by the County Commissioner and would then be paid Sh1 million as ‘compensation’ to go and start afresh elsewhere.
Last week Matiangi came to the defence his administrators and warned citizens and elected leaders alike against harassing, humiliating and intimidating his officers.
“I am not saying the officers working under me are angels. I am saying they need to be respected by our leaders,” said Matiangi even as he disclosed he had written a protest letter to the Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka over the harassment and intimidation claims.
The development came to light as the Director of Public Prosecutions opened manslaughter charges against dam owner Perry Mansukh Kansagara Patel, his General Manager Vinoj Kumar alongside officials of the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and the county government who are mandated with ensuring the safety of dams.