A ballast processing factory is causing distress to the residents of Mirira village in Kiharu sub-county, Murang’a, amid claims that the explosives being used to carry out operations are causing irreparable damage to nearby houses.
According to the residents, the factory that was constructed in the area to process ballast to be used during the ongoing construction of the Kenol-Sagana-Marua and Mau Mau roads has now become a nightmare.
They claim that the explosives being used for large boulders were very powerful and caused tremors that have led to some of their houses crumbling down, while others have developed cracks, rendering them unsafe for habitation.
One of the residents, Beatrice Njeri, whose house has been destroyed by the explosives, said she needed compensation so that she could put up a new one.
“The explosions are very strong to the extent of causing tremors, which affect our houses,” Njeri said.
The distraught residents also lamented that, other than the tremors, there were also huge clouds of dust emanating from the exercise, which could have adverse effects on their health, due to excessive air pollution.
The residents have also attributed the recent increase in cases of local women having miscarriages to the undesired effects of the facility, saying their efforts to reach the factory owners have so far been futile.
Another resident, Peter Mwangi, claimed that the livestock in the area has been dying mysteriously after consuming water from a nearby river, adding that they suspect it may have been contaminated by the factory’s wastewater trickling into it.
However, Mining PS Elijah Mwangi, who toured the area recently, promised the residents that they would get sufficient compensation for any damage that may have been caused by the company.
While addressing the concerns of the residents, Mwangi called upon the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and file a report with his office for further action.
“All those whose houses have been affected will be compensated in order to help them rebuild their homes,” he said.
“We have also agreed with the factory management that they will be switching on the siren to alert the residents when they are about to use the explosives so that they are not caught unawares,” he added.
The PS also insisted that all people involved in mining should obtain licences from the relevant government agencies, saying this will help in checking their operations and ensuring they follow the laid down guidelines.