High Court orders Kiambu leather company shutdown


Workers at a leather tannery. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A court has ordered the temporary closure of a leather processing company at Dagoretti in Kiambu County until a case filed by residents claiming pollution is heard and determined.

Justice Lucy Gacheru has barred Yetu Leather Ltd and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) from further infringement of the residents’ constitutional rights to a clean and healthy environment by operating a leather tannery within a residential area.

The temporary injunction order restraining operations of the leather tannery is also directed to Ngethe Mburu, Yetu Leather Company Limited, Kiambu County, Kenya Power and the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company.

“It is the court’s considered view that if the plaintiffs are to suffer any health concerns, the same may not be compensated by costs.

“The plaintiffs have, therefore, demonstrated that any injury caused may not be compensated by way of costs and irreparable injury may be caused,” said the judge while finding that the balance of convenience lies in favour of the residents.

The 99 residents led by Patrick Njenga claimed that in November 2015 one of their neighbours leased land to the leather manufacturer to operate a leather tannery business in the name of Yetu Leather Company Limited.

Health hazards

They added that in April 2016, when they learnt of the signing of the lease agreement, they filed an objection with the Nema opposing the issuance of the Environment Impact Assessment licence.

The opposition was on the grounds that the suit property was not environmentally conducive for the establishment of a tannery factory, as it would expose them and their families to a health hazard.

However, in September 2016, Nema issued the licence despite their objection.

In response, the Nema through acting director compliance and enforcement Zephania Ouma said it issued the licence after Yetu Ltd submitted an EIA report for the proposed leather tannery.

He said the licence was issued because the company complied with all laws and regulations.

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