Sugar firms risk clo­sure over waste

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - COUNTY - BY RUTH MBULA

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.

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