The High Court has summoned an expert who compiled a report on the environmental impact of the multibillion shilling Itare dam project in Nakuru County.
A three-judge bench formed by Chief Justice David Maraga to hear and determine the case challenging the construction of the dam directed the Rift Valley Water Services Board (RVWSB) to ensure the expert witness comes to court.
The order was issued during a status conference.
Judges John Mutungi, Dalmas Ohungo and Mohamed Kuno said they want the specialist to shed more light on issues such as public participation, and the adverse effects of the project as well as the mitigation measures in place.
“The court hereby summons the third respondent’s expert to explain the issues raised in the petition,” the court ruled.
The board has been listed as the third respondent in the three separate petitions filed by the Luo Council of Elders, the Kipsigis Council of Elders and the Ecosystems Social Economic Development Organisation.
The order followed a verbal application by Mr Elvis Nanda, who was holding brief for the petitioners’ lawyers.
He successfully convinced the court to have the expert witness appear in court to make clear the assessment report.
The court further allowed the parties to consolidate the three matters into one petition.
The parties agreed to merge the cases, saying the issues raised in the three petitions were similar and that this could save the court’s time.
In the three cases, filed in 2016, the petitioners sued Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, his Environment and Natural Resources counterpart Judi Wakhungu and the RVWSB for allegedly not taking the necessary steps when implementing the project.
They told the court that the project would directly affect their counties, adding that the regions are at great risk of being turned into drylands.
The respondents have, however, dismissed the claims as false, saying the environment impact assessment conducted indicates the project will have no such effects.
In a bid to fully understand the issues, the court ordered the respondents to file supplementary affidavits, annexing the structural layout of the project, by December 31.
The case will be heard on February 26 next year.