Sugar firms risk closure over waste
The National Environmental Complaints Committee has put sugar factories on notice for degrading the environment through poor waste management, warning that they risk closure.
While on a fact-finding mission at Trans Mara Sugar Company in Kilgoris, Narok County yesterday, the committee said they have been receiving complaints from communities surrounding the factories.
Dr John Chumo, secretary to the committee, said as the environmental ombudsman, they will not just sit and watch as the factories make huge profits at the expense of people's health.
“We are concerned that these factories have become a health hazard to locals. They dump toxic waste into water sources and in the air, which gradually affect people,” said Dr Chumo.
While threatening to close sugar factories which do not adhere to the set environmental guidelines, Dr Chumo said many had encroached on riparian land while others dumped effluent and solid waste directly into rivers.
“This is unacceptable and we are giving a 14-week ultimatum for the factories to shape up,” said Dr Chumo.
Dr Chumo said that the environmental watchdog is currently spearheading a conservation campaign targeting the rural communities in a bid to make locals understand their environmental rights.
At Trans Mara Sugar Factory, the committee verified claims by locals that the miller was responsible for the degradation of Keyian river that drains into River Mogor and eventually Lake Victoria.
The firm's chief operations officer Rajesh Bhargava apologised for the poor waste management and assured locals that leakages into the river will stop forthwith.
Trans Mara Sugar’s Rajesh Bhargava (right) makes his point to Dr John Chumo. Looking on are Trans Mara West MP Gideon Konchella (in checked shirt) and other committee members.