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State ordered to pay Sh1.3bn to Owino Uhuru lead poisoning victims

Thursday July 16 2020
owino

The metal refinery factory in Changamwe, Mombasa believed to have caused lead poisoning among residents of Owino Uhuru slums. On July 16, 2020, the Environment court ordered the government and two private investors to pay Sh1.3 billion to the residents affected by the poisoning. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OCHARO

The Environment and Land Court has ordered the government and two private investors to pay Sh1.3 billion to residents of Owino Uhuru slums in Chagamwe, Mombasa County who were affected by lead poisoning which emanated from a factory within the area.

In a ruling on Thursday, Justice Ann Omollo also ordered State agencies responsible for the environment to clean up any remaining lead deposits.

The residents moved to court in 2016 seeking Sh1.6 billion as compensation for the deaths of their loved ones as well as ailments associated with lead poisoning.

The Centre for Justice Governance and Environmental Action Executive Director Phyllis Omido moved to court on behalf of the residents and sued the ministries of Environment and Health, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the Export Processing Zones Authority and Penguin Paper and Book Company.

LIABLE FOR POISONING

In her ruling, Justice Omollo found the State agencies and the private investor who run the factory liable for poisoning the residents.

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Following the ruling, the State is also now expected, within the next four months, to clean up the soil and water in the affected area and remove any wastes deposited within the settlement or pay a further Sh700 million in default.

The court also ordered the Environment and Health ministries, together with Nema, to develop and implement regulations adopted from best practices regarding lead and lead alloy manufacturing plants.

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