Probe ordered of toxic emissions in South B

Factories emit gases that sicken residents, especially children hospitalised for vomiting, respiratory problems, nose bleeds

In Summary

• Tobiko on Monday directed National Environmental Complaints Committee and Nema to urgently investigate 

• Residents, especially children, have developed respiratory problems because of the 'poisonous' gases

Air pollution in Nairobi
Air pollution in Nairobi

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko has ordered a probe of 'toxic emissions from factories near Nairobi's South B estate.

Residents said emissions became unbearable on March 5, when they said gasses were being released at around 3am.

As a result, residents, especially children, have developed respiratory problems.  


Children are coughing, vomiting, have sore eyes and nose bleeds. Some have been hospitalised.

The nature of the gases and exact emissions sites have not been identified.

Tobiko on Monday directed the National Environmental Complaints Committee and the National Environment Management Authority to investigate the problem.

South B MCA Waithera Chege earlier met the CS over the emissions, which have affected residents for a month.

Led by John Chumo, the NECC went to area on Monday and is expected to prepare a  preliminary report for Tobiko.

“I have directed Nema and the committee to carry out investigations, prepare a report and bring it to me. The matter is in my hands and we will take it forward,” Tobiko said.

It was not known when the report would be ready but preparation is urgent.



Speaking to the Star yesterday, Chumo said the team will be on the ground for several days gathering facts.

"We will meet affected residents and visit factories suspected to be emitting these gases. We will be able to present a well-written preliminary report," he said.

Chumo added that once the factories have been identified, an analysis of gasses will be carried out. This will help if the matter goes to court.

One Nema testing device has been on the ground for three days.


Mid last month, Chege, who is the county Majority Whip, had given Nema 14 days to investigate and file a report on factories emitting the toxic gases.

“To date, I have not received any report from Nema, which gives me more reason to say they are not taking the matter seriously,” Chege said.

She had presented the problem to the assembly and said she would file a petition to disband Nema if it fails to investigate the factories.

On March 27, Chege and officials from the executive, the assembly Environment committee and Nema officials visited the area with the factories.

They identified at least 20 factories and after inspection said three were suspected to be emitting dangerous gases.

County Environment chief officer David Makori said the factories may be closed if found culpable.

He said the county is working with other institutions to carry out tests and present findings on the emissions.

“At the moment, the county has no capacity to carry out tests because we don’t have air pollution kits. But we are working with other institutions like the University of Nairobi,” Makori said.

Last week  Chege wrote to CS Tobiko, appealing for his intervention.

She said Nema was not up to the task and accused it of being compromised by he owners of the industries.

“I have followed the necessary channels but if nothing is done, I will have to move to court. The health status of my people is important,” she said.


Smoke bellows from an industry near the Nairobi National park as animals graze on October 9, 2017. Photo/file
Smoke bellows from an industry near the Nairobi National park as animals graze on October 9, 2017. Photo/file
Image: Monicah Mwangi