Four National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) officials have been instructed to step aside amidst investigations into the issuance of the license to the Embakasi gas company.
NEMA, in a statement on Saturday, disclosed that the ongoing inquiry revealed that the four officers allegedly processed the license in an unprocedural manner, overlooking the company's failure to comply with the proposed conditions.
“After thorough assessment of the licensing procedure and processes the Board of Management has noted with great concern some serious gaps in the issuance of the license to the LPG plant in question,” Nema board chairperson Emilio Mugo said.
“The board therefore directs that the implicated officers step aside immediately pending further investigations by the relevant government agencies,” Mugo directed.
The four according to Nema include the Director of environmental compliance, Acting Deputy Director compliance, Senior environmental officer in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) section and head of environmental impact assessment in the EAI section.
The action to send the four packings comes barely hours after President William Ruto directed the Ministry of Energy to sack state officers implicated in the licensing of the plant.
The explosion at the plant on Friday left three people dead and more than 200 nursing injuries in various hospitals in Nairobi.
Addressing the issue in Lugali on Saturday morning, Ruto attributed the incident to corruption, lack of integrity, and greed among government officials responsible for granting the license to the operator.
He expressed concern that the people in government had issued the licenses for the business to be conducted in a residential area where Kenyans reside endangering their lives.
“I want to say for the avoidance of doubt, the government officials who issued licenses for gas installations in residential areas when it was very clear that it was the wrong thing to do, but because of incompetence and corruption they issued licenses,”
He continued: “Today we have injuries, we have Kenyans who have died, those fellows who are involved in this, the ministry must immediately take action against them and they must be dismissed and prosecuted for the crimes they have committed.”
The President said there was no need for such people to continue holding government office and being paid with taxpayers money.
In its statement, NEMA said it received an environment impact assessment project report for the proposed installation of the 10MT LPG and storage and filling plant on July 29 2020.
The authority said the project is classified as a medium risk as per regulations of the environmental impact assessment and audit amendment regulations, 2019, legal notice 32 of 29.
The project report was then dispatched on April 25, 2022, to various agencies for sectorial review and comments to guide the authority on the licensing process.
The agencies include the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), Director of Physical Planning at Nairobi county, Water Resources Authority, Directorate of Occupational Safety and health, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company and Director of Urban Planning and development.
“On July 28, 2022, a review of the project was done and a number of issues were raised for the project proponent to address,” Nema said.
The issues that were to be addressed according to the authority were clarity on the land ownership and provision of evidence that consultation with immediate neighbors of Nyayo Estate Residents Association had taken place.
The proponents of the project are said to have responded to the issues raised on August 22, 2022, through the project lead environmental assessment expert.
“On February 1, 2023, the project proponent submitted a comprehensive EIA report with potential impacts identified and mitigation measures proposed in the Environmental Management Plan,” Mugo said.
The following day, a decision was made to issue the proposed project with an EIA license with mandatory EIA license conditions for the project proponent to comply prior to the commencement of the construction works at the plant.