A Kitengela investor is counting his losses after angry morans allegedly burnt an incinerator estimated to be worth Sh2 billion on Thursday evening.
They were said to be protesting over emission from the plant, Environment and Commercial Consultancy, which burns medical and other hazardous waste. They claim it has been emitting a foul smell, which they say has negatively affected their health and that of their livestock.
When the Nation visited the plant around noon, we found smoke still billowing from the structures that had been set on fire. We found Prof Philip Mwabe, the plant's proprietor, and a few of his employees strategising on the next course of action.
He said they were still assessing the damage and he would issue a statement later on.
“As you can see I have also just arrived, so I have nothing to say right now,” he said.
Residents in the sparsely populated area, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the morans had gathered at Stony Athi Railway Station where they held a meeting before proceeding to the plant, which is adjacent to the newly constructed standard gauge railway (SGR). The plant is about one kilometre away from the railway station.
“There were more than 100 people, including women, who were gathered here. Some had come in a number of vehicles,” an eyewitness said. “They were armed with jerry cans of fuel, which they used to burn down the plant.”
They said: “The enraged residents said that they decided to take matters into their own hands as the plant had continued operating even after the Kajiado County Governor Dr David Nkedianye ordered them to shut operations and relocate”.
When they attacked, Administration Police officers guarding the nearby SGR camp rushed to the scene, where they managed to save the lives of workers, numbering about 30, the eyewitness said.
“The workers were put into a company vehicle and driven to the SGR camp,” they said. “These attackers had threatened to lynch the terrified workers.”
Apart from the damage to the buildings, a number of vehicles were also reportedly set on fire. Firefighters were said to have arrived after much of the damage had been done.
Isinya Officer Commanding Police Division Stephen Weda said the matter was under investigation.
In August, 2014, the Maasai stormed the plant and set it on fire. However, the damage was not as intensive as the one caused on Thursday.
During the 2014 attack, the Maasai beat Star journalist Kurgat Marindany when they confused him for a police officer and he had to be admitted in hospital.
The matter escalated and reached the office of Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye, who visited the plant and ordered it shut.
The incinerator, said to be the largest private waste management facility in East Africa, relocated to Embuyangat from Kitengela three years ago after protests from local residents. They said effects of the fumes emitted from the plant had to miscarriage.