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14th of August 2018

Economy



DPP orders arrest Solai dam owner amid threat claims

News Wednesday, July 4, 2018 21:28

By LYNET IGADWAH

Noordin Haji Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has ordered the arrest of Perry Mansukh Kansagara Patel, owner of the collapsed Solai dam which claimed 47 lives, amid claims that senators investigating the tragedy are being threatened.

Mr Haji on Wednesday directed that Mr Patel, who is Managing Director of Patel Coffee Estates Ltd, and General Manager Vinoj Kumar be arrested to face charges of manslaughter.

The DPP has also ordered the arrest of officials of the Water Resources Management Authority (Warma), the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), and the county government who are mandated with ensuring the safety of dams.

The orders came amid claims of phone call threats by members of the Senate committee investigating the dam tragedy that occurred in May.

Committee chairman Mutula Kilonzo Jnr Wednesday said the threats aimed at sabotaging the probe will not dampen members’ commitment to ensure justice for victims by establishing the truth. “We will not be intimidated, cowed, bought or compromised. We will do our job as per our mandate to find facts and make recommendations,” he told journalists.

On Tuesday, Water secretary Simon Chelugui revealed that the dam was not licensed and had not been inspected as is required by law.

Mr Chelugui said that the ministry only allowed the dam owner to build a weir to divert water to his expansive farm.

A weir is a small low enclosure or fence built across a river or stream to raise the water level or divert its flow.

He said the only document on the mega development in their records was a 2004 permit for the construction of a weir. Warma, he said, had never inspected the dam since its construction in 2005.

Last week, Defence secretary Raychelle Omamo told the committee that the dam was huge, with a capacity of 190 million cubic metres of water.

The committee is set to visit the site on Friday to ascertain facts so far presented ahead of writing a report that will be tabled in the House at end month.

“We will unravel the facts and whoever is responsible will ultimately carry their cross. Intimidating senators is an effort in futility given that children were among victims of the tragedy,” said Mr Kilonzo Jnr.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika said it was unfortunate that some forces were trying to frustrate senators and cover up illegalities.

“We know some senators and administration staff are working in cahoots with the phone callers from outside Kenya,” he said.

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