ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

Kiboko River oil spill now before Senate

Mutula wants to know why Sh48bn pipeline was built without leak detection system.

In Summary

• Oil spill detected on March 30 but Nema has been silent on the extent of the spillage.

• Residents continue to use water from the river, unaware of the harmful effects.

Acting KPC Managing Director Hudson Andambi addresses residents of Kiboko in Makueni county on Tuesday.
PUBLIC BARAZA: Acting KPC Managing Director Hudson Andambi addresses residents of Kiboko in Makueni county on Tuesday.
Image: MUTUA KAMETI

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr has sought the Senate's intervention in the Kiboko River oil spillage in Makindu subcounty.

Oil spilt into Kiboko's natural springs along the newly constructed Sh48 billion Mombasa-Nairobi oil pipeline. The spill was detected on March 30. 

Mutula requested a statement from the Committee on Energy on why Nema has not issued a restoration order as required by law.

He also asked why Nema and the Water Resources Management Authority have not issued a warning to residents on the effects of the oil.

The Star found residents still using the polluted water for irrigation and at home.

“I don’t know of another source of water. I use water from the river for domestic purposes and for watering animals,” said Kiio Mutunga, who leaves downstream.

Ann Ndile, who was taking her cattle to a water point in the river, said she is aware of the spill but is unaware of any harmful effects.

“They will tell us whether the water is fit for consumption but as at now, we will continue using it,” she said.

Mutula asked the committee to find out why the pipeline was designed, built and handed over without a leak detection system.

“State the amount of oil product that spilt in the environment on the said date and the distance thereof and provide to this Senate a written recovery plan of the said product and the timelines thereof,” read Mutula’s statement tabled at the Senate on Wednesday.

The senator wants the committee to provide details of the contractor, cost and state of the contract, and whether it had a defect liability period.

 

He wants the committee to report to the Senate the mitigation measures adopted by the management of Kenya Pipeline Company and in particular, provision of clean water for residents of Kiboko and its environs and the recovery of the foreign product from the underground water source.

In a public meeting on Tuesday at Kiboko police station grounds, KPC failed to commit itself to supplying residents with alternative water.

"I can't say here that I will bring you water tomorrow because I will be lying to you. There are certain procedures that have to be followed and we will first consult with your leaders to find a solution," acting managing director Hudson Andambi said.

The Senate committee will also be required to state whether KPC has procured the services of an expert to conduct an environmental impact social assessment and when it intends to issue the report to the Makueni government, Warma and Nema.

It is tasked with finding out when the people of Makueni should expect a detailed water analysis report on the Kiboko springs, Kiboko River and other nearby water sources.

The oil spill is the second in the county. The first was in Thange River in Kibwezi East subcounty.

On Tuesday, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana threatened to sue the state at the International Court of Justice over the spill and accused KPC of neglecting residents.

“We shall write to push KPC to compensate our people who have been affected by the oil spill. It should also supply those affected with clean water,” he said.

Kibwana spoke at a public meeting near the spill zone that was attended by Andambi.

Andambi apologised and said the company will ensure restoration of the area as it considers compensation and water supply demands.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya