A hearing of an existing row between an alcoholic drink’s manufacturer and a multi-billion-shilling housing development in Athi River is ongoing at the Environment Tribunal.
London Distillers Kenya Limited (LDK) is challenging the ongoing construction of GreatWall Gardens housing project in Athi River, Machakos county.
LDK has made an appeal challenging the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)’s license issuance to Erdemann Property Limited (EPL) in the Greatwall Gardens’ Phase 3 Project.
LDK’s lawyer Makongonya Tiego during the hearing on Thursday said that they were not ready to proceed and sought for adjournment.
“The Industry has filed an application before Judge Oscar Angote of Environment and Land Court (ELC) Machakos that is seeking to consolidate the matter at the tribunal with that before him,” said Tiego.
EPL’s lawyer Tom Ojienda opposed that application and said that there we no orders granted by ELC Machakos stopping the proceedings at the tribunal and the matter should proceed.
“EPL has suffered as a developer after the construction of its 3 rd phase was stopped by the tribunal which has led to loss of billions,” said Ojienda.
EPL is being represented by lawyers Tom Ojienda, Mr. Cyrus Maina and Mr. Wilfed Lusi.
The tribunal allowed the matter to proceed where LDK presented Benjamin Langwen a former employee of NEMA who testified that EPL should have done a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Report it had done for the GWG3 Project
“Failure to conduct the SEA for the developing Company was wrong and as such LDK sought to have the License revoked, “he added
NEMA witness opposed those sentiments confirming that SEA is only conducted for high magnitude projects and should be recommended mostly for mixed development with approval of government as per the Environmental Management and Coordination Act Kenya 2015.
He distinguished that since EPL was putting up a residential project the SEA was not necessary.
The suit is set to proceed on 30th July, 2020 where EPL is expected to present its witnesses in defense to the Appeal.
The residents had complained that the distiller was emptying toxic waste water into the surroundings, leading to discomfort and diseases.
The distillery had written to Nema, arguing that Great Wall Gardens sits on an industrial zone and should, therefore, be brought down.
The estate was built long after the distillery and would typically have also been approved by the local authorities, meaning the claims that the area is gazetted as an industrial zone might not hold.
EPL managing director Zeyung Yang had said Parliament recently directed Nema to immediately grant him a license for the third phase worth Sh3.2 billion.
They are now discharging their affluent into our project site,” he said.
“Must Athi River residents keep suffering due to pollution by LDK?” Erdemann has constructed over 4,600 housing units and handed over most of them to buyers.
EPL it has incurred losses of over 1 billion since the construction of its phase 3 project was halted.
The developer says his projects are in line president Uhuru Kenyatta’s big 4 Agenda on affordable housing to Kenyans