Survivors of Patel Dam tragedy demand Sh1bn compensation from firm

Wednesday August 22 2018

Patel Dam tragedy in Solai

Survivors of the Patel Dam tragedy in Solai, Nakuru County, on May 10, 2018. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Survivors of the Solai tragedy have demanded Sh1 billion from the owners of the dam that killed 48 people and left a trail of destruction in Nakuru County in May.

The more than 400 survivors want the money as compensation for the destruction caused and lives lost in the tragedy.

The private dam, located inside a farm owned and managed by Perry Kansagara and Vinoj Kumar, burst its banks three months ago, sweeping away surrounding villages.


Besides the deaths, the tragedy displaced more than 5,000 people after the sleepy Energy and Nyankinyua villages in Solai were flattened.

The survivors, led by Kabazi MCA Peter Mbae through lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich, have written individual demand letters to the Patel Coffee Estates Ltd asking the proprietors to admit civil liability before they negotiate compensation. “The victims lost so much and they need to rebuild their lives. They can only rebuild their lives after they are compensated,” Dr Mbae told the Nation Wednesday.

The survivors have sent 400 letters to the owners.

A recent visit to the scene of the tragedy by the Nation indicated that Energy and Nyakinyua villages, that were once lively, are now ghost areas, with debris of what used to be houses scattered all over.

Solai shopping centre can be traced, with few business premises that stood the wrath of the waters remaining closed to date.

The television cameras that became the order of the day after the tragedy have also left, dignitaries have stopped arriving in helicopters and there are no longer convoys of vehicles racing through the rough road that connects Solai to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, ferrying emergency medical care items and food.


According to Mr Ng’etich, the owners have been given seven days to respond.

“Failure to which we will take the matter to court,” Mr Ng’etich said in Nakuru town.

The lawyer said the survivors only want open dialogue with the owners, so that the matter can be resolved once and for all.

“We want to carry out a very transparent process of compensating the survivors by involving all stakeholders. The owners have said the tragedy was an act of God, but the dam belonged to them. It is their moral responsibility to compensate those affected,” Mr Ng’etich added.

The dam burst its banks on May 9, causing deaths and massive destruction. Various humanitarian bodies including Kenya Red Cross have been helping the survivors to rebuild their lives.