Relocate Kibos Sugar, not school for blind – activists

Rights crusaders want Education ministry to halt planned relocation of institution over pollution

In Summary

• Human rights protest against Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries for failing to comply with environmental regulation. 

Activists protest outside Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries over pollution
NO WAY: Activists protest outside Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries over pollution

Activists have opposed plans to relocate a school for the blind in Kisumu and instead demanded that Kibos Sugar Factory be moved for interfering with learning at the institution.

Human rights groups including people with disability accused the miller of failure to comply with environmental regulations.

Kondele Community Social Justice Centre said Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries have been discharging effluent into River Kibos. It said the industries also cause air pollution. 

KCSJC officer Boniface Ogutu asked the ministries of Education and Environment to swiftly halt the planned relocation of Kibos School for the Blind.

"It is the company that has to be relocated and not the school. We'll reject attempts to move the school to Miwani," Ogutu said.

Kibos Prison, Kibos School for the Blind and Kibos Primary School are the worst affected institutions.

Ogutu said there was a plan to have the schools irregularly relocated.

“We are aware of plans to forcefully relocate the schools. The company found these institutions and cannot force them out,” Ogutu said.

Miriam Opondo asked why the National Environmental Management Authority approved the establishment of company close to learning institutions.

"This school was established in 1963 and has 187 blind pupils in the primary section and 170 in secondary. Why should the school move out for a factory which was built in 2007?" Opondo said.

She said the factory was deliberately causing pollution to force the school to move out to give them room for expansion. She demanded that Nema officers who allowed the construction of Kibos Sugar close to the schools be punished.

“These children cannot see the dusty pollution and particles from the factory which often fall on their meals,” Opondo said.

She asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene.

Opondo asked lawmakers representing the disabled to save the school, the only learning centre for the blind and children with albinism in the area.

Last month, the National Assembly's committee on Labour and Social Welfare visited the area to investigate the extent of environmental damage caused by the firm. The MPs said the factory should be relocated fr interfering with activities at nearby institutions.

“We can’t allow industries to displace harmless innocent children in the name of making profits,” committee chairman Ali Wario said.

A joint committee of Labour, Environment and Education will also visit the area for a further fact-finding mission.

“We will summon the county administrators, factory owners, education and Nema officers. We have witnessed the impunity and danger facing our children,” Wario said.

Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo said the miller must be relocated.

“With the noise, dust and air pollution, learning is impossible. We must stand up for the learners and the residents,” Koyoo said.

The school has also opposed the construction of a power generation plant by Kibos Sugar, citing pollution.

Energy Regulatory Commission director general Pavel Oimeke said the school objected to the electric power generation license sought by the sugar mill.

Residents say the plant is also noisy and releases dust in the air. Company chairman Raju Chanan has denied the accusations.

In a letter dated February 14, Oimeke said the application will be suspended until the objection is addressed satisfactorily. He directed the mill to submit a written response to the commission detailing how it intends to address the issues raised.


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