Lawyer Kethi Kilonzo for Kibwezi West MP Patric Musimba at Milimani law courts (FILE PHOTO)..
BY SAM ALFAN.
National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has denied allegations that Sh327 billion Standard Gauge Railway project received two Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licenses.
NEMA director general Geoffrey Wahungu claims that one of the alleged license was issued unprocedurally on February 5, 2013 for unknown reasons.
The director confirmed that the only genuine Environmental Impact Assessment license is the one he signed on February 12, 2014 and the alleged one left the service in 2013 over integrity and abuse of office issues.
“There can only be one EIA license for any one project and until March 10, 2015,” he said in a sworn affidavit.
The validity issue arose in court on March 10, 2015 where NEMA was accused of issuing two EIA licenses to the said National project.
Wahungu added that Environmental Impact Assessment licenses do not expire after the commencement of a project but only before. He added that the alleged licences had an error that was corrected and a new one issued.
“This is the reason that all Environmental Impact Assessment licenses provide for a 24 months period as the period within which the project should commence,” he added.
The alleged project is for the construction of proposed Nairobi-Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway Line by Kenya Railways Corporation.
NEMA acts states that “the proponent shall ensure that land acquisition and resettlement is done in consultation with the Ministry of Lands”.
The proponent shall work in consultation with Kenya Wildlife especially on the Section running across Tsavo National Park.
They should work in close consultation with Kenya Forest Service to ensure the protection of Kibwezi forest among others factors.
The issue on validity of the license was raised by Kibwezi West MP Patric Musimba claiming that the license was due for renewal on February 12, 2015 and it was given in breach of the constitution and ought not to be renewed.
Musimba who moved to court under certificate of urgency on January 26, said the Environment Impact Study and Report for the project was undertaken in breach of the constitution and the laws.
He was seeking the orders barring the renewal of the license, last year on November 12, the High Court lifted orders that barred the construction of the Railway.
The move gave room to the respondents-National Land Commission, Kenya Railways Corporation, the National Environment Management Authority and Attorney General Githu Muigai- to proceed with the project.
Judge Kariuki of Machakos told the petitioner to file an application seeking interim orders before the bench to be constituted by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.
The applicant through his lawyer Kethi Kilonzo argued that Kibwezi residents were not compensated for land acquired for the SGR project launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in April.
Ms Kilonzo added that the residents were not given notice before the take-over, as required by the law.
She told the court that there was need for the project to be subjected to public participation and environmental audit.
The court was told KRC requires land to construct the railway and the NLC is in the process of acquiring land Kibwezi West constituency of Makueni County.
The petitioner argued that the names of the residents affected did not appear in the National Gazette and in some instances the measurements of some parcel of land of the affected residents were wrong.
He claimed that they did not receive notice of the date and appointed time that officers measured and demarcated the parcels of lands or dwelling houses to be acquired which was in contravention of the law.
The residents raised concern on whether they will receive just compensation as there was no civic education on the requirements of the lands act.
According to the petitioner, the respondents have failed to address oral and written petitions and complaint of the petitioners.
In the case, the MP has sued the National Land Commission, the Kenya Railway Corporation and the Attorney-General, while China Roads and Bridges Corporation have been named as an interested party.
The Sh327 billion projects were launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in April.
Suspended Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau had said compulsory acquisition of land for the first phase of the SGR line from Mombasa to Nairobi will cost Sh10 billion.
He had said 11,000 acres will be compulsorily acquired from individuals and government agencies along the 609-kilometre Nairobi-Mombasa Street