Owino Uhuru community awarded Ksh.1.3 billion compensation for lead poisoning


Owino Uhuru community awarded Ksh.1.3 billion compensation for lead poisoning
An image of a a judge's gavel.PHOTO | FILE

The Owino Uhuru community in Jomvu can now smile after being awarded Ksh.1.3 billion in compensation over lead poisoning.

The case was filed in 2015 by the residents through the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental action.

The 3,000 residents in Jomvu either worked or bordered the now-defunct smelting plant, Metal Refinery EPZ Ltd.

The company extracted lead from used car batteries, emitting fumes laden with lead and spewed untreated acid waste water into streams.

It was however shut down in 2014 after causing at least five deaths.

On July 16, 2020, Justice Anne Omollo ruled that Ksh. 1.3 billion shillings be awarded to the Owino Uhuru community in what has been described as a landmark ruling.

Additionally, a sum of Ksh.700,000,000 be paid to the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action to coordinate the soil/environmental clean up exercise that should be conducted by the liable respondents to in four months from the date of the judgment.

Six state agencies sued in the case were also apportioned liability in the ratio as follows: Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources – 10%, Ministry of Health – 10%, NEMA – 40%, EPZA 10%, Metal Refinery EPZ – 25%, and Hezron Awiti’s Penguin Paper and Book Co. – 5% .

The story was covered extensively by African Uncensored, run by multiple award-winning Kenyan journalist John Allan Namu.

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