Kenya: Owners of dam that collapsed killing 47 face manslaughter charges as survivors say they regret accepting conditional compensation

The Director of Public Prosecutions...[has] ordered the arrest and prosecution of 2 Patel Coffee Estates' managers on charges of manslaughter over the Patel Dam tragedy that killed 47 people and left many others injured. In the meantime, several survivors of the tragedy regret signing a conditional payout that bars them from pursuing further claims against the owner of the dam.

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9 July 2018

Patel Dam owners freed on Sh2.5m bail

Author: Macharia Mwangi, Daily Nation (Kenya)

Patel Coffee Estates Managing Director Perry Kansagara and the general manager Vinoj Kumar and four other co-accused have been freed on Sh5 million bond with a surety of similar amount or a cash bail of Sh2.5 million each.  The two owners of the Patel Dam that collapsed and killed 47 people in Nakuru County on May 9, were charged in a Naivasha court alongside four others, including Nakuru County Water Director Johnson Kamau, Water Rights Officer (WRA),Winnie Mutisya, sub regional manager (WRA), Tomkin Odhiambo and Assistant Technical Coordinator Manager (WRA), Jacinta Were.  The six had appeared before the court last Friday and were charged with 48 counts of manslaughter each and neglect of official  duties.  They faced the charges in connection with killing of 47 people in the tragedy that also left a trail of destruction.  Mr Kansagara faced two more counts of neglect for failing to present an Environmental Impact Assessment report of the killer dam and others in the expansive farm in Solai.  Ms Mutisya, Mr Odhiambo and Ms Were also faced an additional count of neglect of official duties.  Mr Kamau also faced one more count of neglect of official duty.  The Nakuru County government together with the Water Resources Authority and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema),were entrusted with the mandate of inspection, monitoring and control of the safety of dams.  They all denied all the charges...Besides the deaths, the tragedy left over 5,000 people displaced after its water flattened the sleepy Energy village in Solai.

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5 July 2018

Owner of dam that collapsed killing 47 to face manslaughter charges

Author: Joseph Muraya, Capital News (Kenya)

"Patel Dam owner, other officials to face manslaughter for 47 deaths"

Patel Dam owner Mansukh Kansagara and the General Manager Vinoj Jaya Kumar will now face manslaughter charges over the recent tragedy in Solai where 47 people died. Also to face charges are top officials of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Water Resources Management Authority (WRA) and Nakuru County Government. Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji says the officials will face various charges for their alleged omissions or commissions that led to the tragedy that also displaced hundreds of people from a village nearby. Haji has already directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to arrest and arraign the suspects in court. “I have given consent to the DCI (George Kinoti) to immediately cause the arrest of all suspects,” the DPP said in a statement. “My office is preparing to have the various suspects arraigned in court to answer the charges.”

The charges include neglecting official duty and failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment report. According to the DPP, detectives in their probe discovered that the dam’s construction was done by unqualified staff using the farm equipment leading to construction and design flaws. The dam’s water was being supplied by the Watkins Stream, which was abstracted completely by the owner. The water permit in respect to the dam, which expires on December 5, 2018 was irregularly issued. There was failure by the owners, NEMA and WRA to ensure environmental compliance. “Upon review of the file, I have established that there is criminal culpability on the part of WRA, NEMA and County Government officials entrusted with the mandate of inspection, monitoring and control of the safety of dams,” the DPP asserted.

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5 July 2018

Survivors of dam tragedy that killed 47 regret accepting conditional payout by company

Author: Mercy Kahenda, Standard Digital (Kenya)

“How Solai survivors were duped to sign for Sh100,000 from killer dam owners”

Several survivors of the Solai tragedy have said they regret accepting a conditional payout that bars them from pursuing further claims against the owners of the killer dam. They claimed they were not allowed to study the documents that stated the dam owners would not accept liability despite the payment of Sh100,000 for a life lost, Sh200,000 for semi-permanent structures and Sh1 million for permanent structures destroyed. 

The survivors said they were desperate for cash. They were required to sign the documents to receive the money. They said they were surprised to later learn that the documents they had signed were discharge and indemnity forms intended to cushion the dam owner, Mansukh Patel. Some of those who spoke to The Standard said they were not given time to read through the document they were asked to sign at the office of the Solai assistant county commissioner in the presence of Rongai Deputy County Commissioner Julius Kavita.


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16 May 2018

Kenya: 44 dead after wall of a dam in a private agribusiness bursts

Author: Rita Damary, The Star (Kenya)

"44 swept to death as Nakuru dam bursts wall"

Over 40 people were swept to their deaths yesterday and many more were missing after a dam burst its walls in the Solai area of Nakuru following heavy rains. The Patel Dam, located on private farmland and used for irrigation and fish farming, broke its one-kilometer-long wall and swept hundreds of homes downstream.  The extent of the damage was yet to be ascertained by press time and rescue and relief efforts were underway. Government officials, however, projected that the death toll could rise to more than 100. They include children and women trapped in mud and others whose whereabouts could not be established.

The mega dam on the farm of prominent farmer Mansukul Patel in Solai, Kabazi ward, collapsed and sent water surging across densely populated villages, destroying homes and buildings along the way. At Marigu B village, the water found its way through a fault and emerged some seven kilometres away at Murrum trading centre, causing panic among residents. Located on the upper part of the farm, the dam is eight kilometres from Solai Centre and one of four water reservoirs owned by Patel...

A primary school was destroyed and the neighboring Solai Secondary School flooded. It was later ordered closed by the ministry. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people were rendered homeless within a three-kilometre radius. Approximately 450 houses are said to have been destroyed, stretching up to the expansive Nyakinyua farm, which borders the dam's water reservoir.

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