15 May 2018

Kenya: Senators Want Solai Dam Owner Arrested and Prosecuted

Nairobi — The Senate Committee on National Security is calling for the immediate arrest of the Solai dam owner Mansukh Patel following the death of 48 people last week.

The lawmakers have taken issue with security agencies for what they have described as tolerance in the manner in which they have handled the situation.

Led by the Committee Chairperson, Yusuf Haji, the lawmakers now want criminal charges to be opened against Patel.

"It is sad that after a week the owner of the dam has not been apprehended and arraigned in court," said Haji during a press briefing at Parliament buildings.

Haji said the owner needs to take full responsibility for the 48 deaths and urged the relevant security agencies to take action fast.

"He is not special and above all, he is not above the law, action should be taken against him and it should be done as soon as possible," he said.

The Garissa legislator said after members visited the scene on a fact finding mission, it was apparent that much needed to be done in aiding the hundreds of families that have been left homeless and displaced by the floods.

"The affected families need to be assisted by all means so that they can get their life back and stabilize," he said.

Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika did not have kind words for Patel as she demanded his immediate arrest and prosecution.

Kihika revealed that there was negligence on the part of Patel, saying he had on numerous occasions blocked Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) officials from inspecting his facility.

"His farm is heavily guarded and from the reports we gathered on the ground, Patel never allowed anyone to enter into his farm especially the dam engineers who wanted to do routine checkups on the dam," said Kihika.

She further added that Patel's dams were built upstream posing an imminent danger to the locals, a fact she said Patel was fully aware of despite the frequent complaints by the locals who protested the continuous lack of water.

"The devastation was not a natural disaster but a man made situation which could have been avoided. He blocked rivers from reaching the people and ultimately it caused the disaster. Patel and his family should personally compensate the families that have been affected," she said.

She called for the shutting down of other dams in the region saying that their findings revealed that they had exceeded the required measurements.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo echoed her colleagues' sentiments and challenged the relevant security agencies to handle the situation with the seriousness it deserved.

"The relevant security agencies should act fast but why the silence on this matter?" she asked.

In eight days time, the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet is expected to issue a report to the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji after he ordered for a thorough probe to be conducted into the matter.

The DPP asked the police boss to forward a resultant investigation file in a bid to ensure those found culpable are brought to book.

Meanwhile, Patel has defended himself saying that there was no foul play in the construction of the dam and that attributed the damage to the heavy rainfall in Dundori forest which caused the walls of the dams to collapse.

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