MPs in bribery claims reject bid to clear factory

Friday, April 23rd, 2021 00:00 | By
Moitalel Ole Kenta.

A parliamentary committee at the centre of bribery claims has dismissed findings by a consultant clearing an alcoholic drinks manufacturer off pollution claims.

In a stormy meeting, members of the Implementation Committee of the National Assembly were of the opinion the findings contained in a report done by an independent consultant were compromised.

London Distillers Kenya (LDK) has been embroiled in a dispute with Erdermann Property Ltd over claims of emptying toxic waste into Athi River.

An independent consultant, Prof Anthony Gachanja who was hired by the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) had concluded that London Distillers complied in all parameters and cleared the firm of pollution claims.

“Our findings were centred on air and water pollution which we found to be within the set parameters,” said Gachanja.

But Erdermann, who are engaged in the dispute with LDK, dismissed the report as compromised saying the consultant did not involve them and that he only took what was offered by LDK.

John Rajwayi representing Erdermann said samples collected from the site were compromised.

LDK discharge points

Rajwayi claimed that LDK has other discharge points which were not investigated, saying the firm had only indicated that they have one point.

“We state that LDK has continued to pollute the environment to date as can be attested by the affluent flowing at the road accessing the firm’s factory in Athi River,” Rajwayi said.

LDK has sustained the fight with MPs over bribery claims and requested for several documents on transactions done by Erdermann on their Athi River property.

In a letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly, LDK chair Mohan Galot, requests  for a list of all the properties developed by EPL, a list of all the transferees of all the residential flats from EPL either for consideration or through alternative means.

Gachanja had in his own admission confirmed that all tests done within LDK’s compound would meet the requirements but those done outside failed.

Committee chairman Moitalel Ole Kenta said the feeling among members was that Nema and the ministry of Environment were shielding LDK and that there is an element of pollution.

“It is clear that Nema and the ministry have taken a position and want the world to believe that there is no element of pollution whereas the findings are open that the discharge from LDK contains affluent,” said Kenta.

Yesterday there emerged another angle in the dispute after it emerged that a former Nema director Benjamin Ragwen works for LDK as a consultant.

Dagoretti South MP Simba Arati averred that by the fact that Ragwen worked at Nema and now at LDK he could compromise the environmental report.

“We are told Ragwen was present when Prof Gachanja collected samples from LDK in the absence of Erdemann representatives, this is a clear indication that he was likely to tamper with the results,” he said.

Sample collecting

Asked why EPL were kept in the dark during the sample collecting, Nema Director General Mamo Mamo said they refused to show up on their own volition and could not be forced to attend.

On LDK’s failure to participate in meetings, Mamo said they wrote a protest letter saying they were withdrawing from any engagement and therefore the authority again not force them. Committee members also dismissed reports that LDK had installed state-of-the-art equipment. 

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