LIST: Four NEMA officials asked to step aside following gas explosion in Embakasi

Nairobi, (KE):- The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has asked at least four officials to step aside as investigations into the issuance of a license to the Embakasi gas-filling plant that exploded on Thursday, February 2, 2024, continue.

In a statement on Saturday, February 3, 2024, NEMA noted that the four including the Director of environmental compliance, Acting Deputy Director of Compliance, Senior environmental officer in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) section and head of environmental impact assessment in the EAI section, overlooked the plant’s failure to comply and processed the license in an unprocedural manner.

“After a thorough assessment of the licensing procedure and processes the Board of Management has noted with great concern some serious gaps in the issuance of the license to the LPG plant in question,” Nema board chairperson Emilio Mugo said.

“The board therefore directs that the implicated officers step aside immediately pending further investigations by the relevant government agencies.”

The directive follows President William Ruto’s order to immediately sack, arrest and prosecute government officials who issued licences to the gas filling plant.

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Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony for Chekalini Market in Lugari, Kakamega County on Saturday, January 3, 2024, Ruto blamed the explosion on corrupt government officials.

The President lamented that State officials issued licences to the gas filling plant when it was obvious that the facility posed an existential threat to residents.

“Kule Nairobi juzi kumetokea mlipuko ya mambo ya gas na wanainchi wengi wameumia kwa sababu ya uzembe na ulaghai na mambo ya ufisadi ya officers wa serikali. Kuna watu wameenda wakaweka leseni kwa residential areas mahali wananchi wanakaa wanaatarisha maisha ya wananchi,” Ruto said.

The head of state further directed the Energy Ministry to immediately sack its officials who were involved in issuing the licences for the doomed gas plant.

“Nimeambia wizara, wale watu ambao wamehusika kutoa hio leseni mahali ambapo hapafai, hawa watu waondoke kazini leo na wapelekwe jela. Kwa sababu hawa watu wanajua ya kwamba walikatazwa waliambiwa wasipatiane hio leseni lakini kwa hongo na ukora na mambo ya kukosa nidhamu wameenda wakaissue licence now we have a problem in our hands,” he said.

Ruto further repeated his message while speaking in English to stress the seriousness of his directive about sacking and prosecuting the corrupt government officials at the Energy Ministry.

“I want to say for the avoidance of doubt the fellows, the government officials who issued licences for gas installations in residential areas when it was very clear that it was the wrong thing to do but because of incompetence and corruption they issued licences, today we have injuries, we have Kenyans who have died. Those fellows who are involved in this, the ministry must immediately take action against them and they must be dismissed and they must be prosecuted for the crimes they have committed,” Ruto said.

The explosion at the plant on Friday left three people dead and more than 200 nursing injuries in various hospitals in Nairobi.

According to NEMA, the gas-filling plant sent an environment impact assessment project report for the proposed installation of the 10MT LPG plant on July 29 2020. The project is classified as a medium risk as per regulations of the environmental impact assessment and audit amendment regulations, 2019, legal notice 32 of 29.

The authority later dispatched a report on April 25, 2022, to various agencies among them the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), the Director of Physical Planning at Nairobi county, the Water Resources Authority, the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company and Director of Urban Planning and development, for sectorial review and comments to guide the authority on the licensing process.

“On July 28, 2022, a review of the project was done and a number of issues were raised for the project proponent to address,” Nema said noting that the issues included clarity on the land ownership and provision of evidence of consultation with immediate neighbours of Nyayo Estate Residents Association.

The plant responded to the issues raised on August 22, 2022, through the project lead environmental assessment expert.

“On February 1, 2023, the project proponent submitted a comprehensive EIA report with potential impacts identified and mitigation measures proposed in the Environmental Management Plan,” Mugo said.

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NEMA said the company was later issued with an EIA license with mandatory EIA license conditions for the project proponent to comply before the commencement of the construction works at the plant.

Source: K24.CO.KE

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