A quarry operated by a company associated with powerful Interior Ministry CS Fred Matiang’i has been accused of causing havoc and misery to residents of Bobasi Constituency in Kisii County.
According to documents in our possession and residents, the quarry operated by a company called County Forty-Five Limited blasts stones just less than 300 metres from a school complex composed of Primary and Secondary Schools as well as a church.
The quarry right opposite Nyamonena SDA Church and Schools complex is located in Nyamonema Getenga Sub-location, Nyangiti location, Bobasi Constituency Kisii County.
The company which is owned by a brother to People Daily Print Managing Editor, Eric Obino, blasts stones which is leading to the dust causing respiratory illnesses in the community as well as cracking the homes located in the area.
The company was licenced by the Ministry of Mining Kisumu Office on June 19, 2017, after the authorities allegedly carried a site inspection. A search at the registrar of companies did not yield any results regarding ownership of the company.
A check on Google Maps by Kahawa Tungu discovered that the stone blasting was set around 500metres from Nyamonema SDA Primary and Secondary Schools.
500 metres is the shortest distance prescribed by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) between schools and non-blast quarries. County 45 is blasting quarry, hence the distance should be longer, at least five kilometres according to experts.
The quarry is said to have caused health hazards, destruction of property and even deaths, according to residents.
For instance, on March 13,2018, it is reported that there was a blast from the quarry that resulted in injuries of three students at Nyamonema Secondary School. The blast and its effects were felt as far as Nyakunguru, three kilometres away from the quarry.
School and church buildings developed cracks, according to several letters written by the school management to authorities.
“The form four classroom experienced some two major cracks, one in the corner and these were caused by the vibrations o the quarry excavation,” wrote the school principal Mr Thomas Omache, in a letter to the sub-county education officer.
The same was reported by Nyamonema SDA Church, which says that the church building developed three major cracks which risked the building to collapse.
At Nyamonema SDA Primary school, standard one, two, three and four classroom buildings also developed cracks, together with the staff room.
When the management officials of the company were informed of the damage caused, they agreed to repair the affected buildings but refused to have the agreement in writing. To date, nothing has happened.
While being authorised, the company had been informed that it shall be responsible for any accident or incidents that may occur during blastings, such as damage to property or injuries.
Apart from ignoring the standard regulations for distance to schools and residents, the company seems to have ignored an order by the Ministry which had instructed that “suitable method of blasting should be employed to ensure that all persons and infrastructure around the area are safe from fly rocks, noise, ground vibrations and high air shockwaves”.
The ministry had ordered that all people living /working in the vicinity of the blasting site should be evacuated to safer distances before blasting process.
However, the company ignored the order and as a result allegedly caused the death of Prisca Mong’ina Nyangaga, mother of the late Eng. Nyangaga. Nyangaga’s home is 50 metres from the quarry. Kahawa Tungu could not independently verify this.
The blast is also said to have affected Ms Irene Myamusi Abraham, who miscarried due to the blast, according to a letter written to the Ministry by area MP Mr Innocent Obiri Momanyi.
Despite several letters to the authorities seeking intervention, no help has come today and the residents were forced to sign a petition seeking to have the licence of the company revoked.
The area MP Mr Obiri wrote to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Mining on April 18, 2018, seeking intervention. He however notes that the letter has never been acted upon.
He wants the people affected by the blasts compensated, and investigate the circumstances surrounding the licencing of blast quarrying in a densely populated area.
“A stream near the quarry which the inhabitants used for drinking water is now red and unsafe for drinking. I write to ask you (to) stop forthwith the mining of quarry stones by blasting at Nyamonema,” says the MP in the letter.
The MP has also tabled a petition in parliament seeking to have the matter investigated and the company’s licence withdrawn.
In the petition, he accuses Ministry of Mining, Kisii County Commissioner’s office and NEMA for failing to address the issue.
Sources in the constituency have revealed that Matiang’i ordered for the arrest and charging of the MP when he started raising the issue. The MP apparently sought help from the super CS without knowing that he had interest in the matter.
His area OCS was immediately ordered to trace him and have him detained and charged with incitement. The MP was lured through his friends in the National Assembly and arrested in Nairobi where he was detained at the Central Police station over a weekend before being driven at night to Nyamira and then Kisii.
With Matiang’i misusing his powers as CS Interior to harass anyone talking about the matter, the whole mainstream media has been warned against writing about the issue while area correspondents have talked of intimidations and threats from associates of CS Matiang’i.