The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has said that the Nakuru county government and the National Environmental Management Agency (Nema) are investigating the Solai Dam tragedy, even as Governor Lee Kinyanjui on Wednesday launched a committee to spearhead the restoration of Solai.
Sources at the prosecutor’s office told the Nation on Wednesday that the DPP, Noordin Haji, had written to the Nakuru County Criminal Investigation Officer asking for statements from the two agencies on the matter, giving them seven days to comply otherwise they would face the full force of the law.
Nema is supposed to shed light on whether an environmental and impact assessment on the Patel dam was carried out according to the law that governs such big construction projects, while the Nakuru County government is expected to clarify whether the dam was ever inspected and approved by county officials in line with the County Development Plans.
“Other agencies have already submitted their statements and the only thing holding up the investigations is the refusal by Nema and Nakuru County government to comply. If they will not have appeared before the CCIO to record statements within seven days, they will be arrested,” said the sources.
The Patel dam located inside a farm owned by tycoon Mansukhlal Patel burst its banks over a month ago, killing 47 and displacing hundreds of families.
Mr Kinyanjui said that he was not aware of delays into the investigation occasioned by his office, but that he would do everything to ensure that county officials cooperate to bring a speedy resolution into the matter.
“The most important thing is that the people of Solai get justice and get the necessary help to rebuild their lives, and I will ensure that this happens as soon as possible,” he said.
Governor Kinyanjui who spoke at the scene of the tragedy in Solai was accompanied by Rift Valley regional coordinator Mongo Chimwaga, Nakuru County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha and Subukia Member of Parliament Samuel Kinuthia Gachobe.
The leaders yesterday visited the scene of the accident where they assured the victims that the national and county governments will not abandon them, but will support them rebuild their lives.
The county boss yesterday warned people who may want to take advantage of the tragedy to enrich themselves, saying they will be dealt with accordingly by the government.
“Through the DC we shall have representatives who will help us resettle the victims,” said Mr Kinyanjui.
Investigations into the killer dam have been marred by delays, with the DPP sending back preliminary reports to the concerned detectives for crucial information.
A report released two weeks ago by the Ministry of Interior stated that the walls of the dam had already been compromised and had started showing cracks way before the heavy rains started and compounded the matter, placing blame squarely on the owners who failed to enforce the dam even after its walls started failing.
“There was clear evidence the earth wall of the dam had started failing much earlier yet no attempt was made to rectify the situation,” the report says.
This contradicts a statement made in the wake of the tragedy by a senior manager at the farm, Vinod Jayakumar, claiming that the dam had burst its banks due to the heavy rains.
Reporting by Jacqueline Kubania, Magdalene Wanja and Peter Mburu