Activist to sue factory over Owino Uhuru lead poisoning - Daily Nation

Environmental activist Phyllis Omido fights for Owino Uhuru residents over lead poisoning

Tuesday May 5 2015

Environmental activists Phyllis Omido speaks to

Environmental activists Phyllis Omido speaks to journalists on arrival at the Moi International Airport on in Mombasa her arrival from USA on Monday May 4, 2015. She vowed to go to court to seek justice for residents of Owino Uhuru slum in Mombasa who suffered lead poisoning. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By WINNIE ATIENO
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Ms Phyllis Omido, an award-winning activist, returned to the country on Monday and said she was headed to court to sue those associated with the factory at Owino Uhuru slum in Mombasa County that is at the centre of a lead poisoning saga.

Speaking at the Moi International Airport on in Mombasa her arrival, Ms Omido said the fight for justice for the Owino Uhuru residents affected by the poisonous factory was far from over.

She asked the National Government’s Public Health department to reveal the findings of the blood samples they took from the residents last year.

“We started this journey in 2009 and it was in 2014 that our voice was finally heard. It has been long.

“Some of us have slept in cells and charged with incitement but today the truth has set us free. We are happy for the award as it is a symbol that our five year battle has been recognised,” she said.

Ms Omido who is the founder of Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa in San Francisco, USA.

She was met at the airport by a group of residents from Owino Uhuru slum.

She claimed some people have been issuing threats to the villagers.

“If they are men enough, let them come to Owino Uhuru and stand with us.

“We told them justice must prevail. We were finding means of how to deal with them and we are now ready and we will go to court this month.

“If they have evidence let us meet in court. Threatening the residents must stop. We want everything to be open,” she said.

GET HELP FOR VICTIMS

Ms Omido said she will meet with the Mombasa County government officials in a bid to ensure that the victims get help.

The mother of one was among six recipients of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists.

She received Sh15.7 million ($175,000) in prize money and a trophy symbolising nature. Her award was in recognition of her campaigns on environmental issues.

Separately, some residents of Owino Uhuru have cautioned political leaders in Mombasa Leaders against politicising the matter and instead work on modalities to have them compensated and treated.

Speaking when a section of local leaders visited the slum, on Saturday they expressed concerns that despite majority of them living in harsh conditions, the matter had taken a political dimension at their expense.

“Let us stop politicising this issue. Leaders must put their differences aside and make sure every resident in this area gets medication. Let those concerned be apprehended,” said Mr Omari Suleiman.

So far 15 people from the slum who tested positive for lead poisoning have started receiving treatment at the Port Reitz District Hospital.

This follows a directive by Governor Hassan Joho that affected residents be treated free of charge.

Tests done by Lancet Kenya targeting an initial 55 people, found 15 to be in need of treatment.

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