Kenya: Walker Industries closed due to environmental pollution & failure to provide workers with protective gear

Author: Bernardine Mutanu, Business Daily (Kenya), Published on: 2 May 2019

"Mavoko shoe factory managers arrested over river pollution"

Six top managers of a shoe-making factory based in Machakos were Tuesday arrested for ignoring an order requiring them to appear in court on accusations of polluting the environment. At the same, the Machakos County government closed down the factory, Walker Industries, located in Mavoko, and hundreds of workers ordered to go home until further notice. An arrest warrant was issued by a Mavoko court in March after the managers failed to appear in court to answer to charges of environmental pollution and failing to improve the working conditions of their workers.

The managers were at pains explaining why they had not complied with the law, five years after the Chinese company was constructed. Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua accused the company of being among factories in the area that are polluting River Athi. He accused officials of national and county governments of failing to enforce a warrant of arrest issued against the management of the company. “It has also been disturbing to find that workers do not have protective gear and operate dangerous machines exposing them to harm,” said Dr Mutua during a press briefing after an impromptu visit of the company...

Some high-end estates in the area were also put on notice for dumping raw sewage into the river. The estates include 360 Apartments, Kings Gate, River Park estate, Grace Park estate and Lifestyle Gardens among others. “These estates do not have sewer systems. All the raw sewage is poured into the river and it has caused ill-health to people downstream. We will arrest the adult residents of those estates for criminal activities if they do not comply,” said Dr Mutua. The owners were directed to conform to the law within 45 days or their houses will be demolished.

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