Solai Dam victims find justice after 5 year wait

Kins of 47 Solai Dam tragedy victims have finally agreed on a compensation deal with the dam owner after years of court battles.

The incident occurred in 2018 when the dam collapsed, and water flooded through the fields of a 3,000 acre commercial coffee farm and into the homes downstream where thousands were displaced from their homes in the surrounding villages of Energy, Endao, Arutani, Nyakinyua and Milmet. 47 lives were claimed by the flood according to Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

In the out-of-court settlement presided over by the Kenya Human Rights Commission ( KHRC), the two parties agreed to Ksh1.2 million for adults’ families and Ksh800,000 for minors.

“Kins of 47 Solai dam tragedy victims agree and sign a compensation deal Ksh1.2 million for adults’ families and Ksh800,000 for minors. KHRC represents 29 victims in this agreement, connected to a manslaughter case against nine people, a dam owner and his workers,” KHRC stated on Tuesday, November 7.

In the case, which has taken years to be solved, the dam owners were charged with several crimes, including failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report before constructing the dam.

According to hydrologist experts who testified in one of the court sessions, the tragedy was caused by the failure of the underground faults and drainage problems that could have led to the collapse of the dam located in Nakuru.

The experts noted that dams such as Solai rarely collapsed on their own except in cases of earthquakes or other forces that may weaken the dam structure, which may also cause such an incident.

In April 2023, Naivasha Chief Magistrate Nathan Lutta ruled that the dam owner and seven other suspects had a case to answer.

“I have keenly looked at documents presented before court including witness statements. The court has established that the nine accused persons have a case to answer and have been put on their own defense,” the magistrate ruled.

This verdict paved the way for the victims, through their lawyers, to initiate an expanded way in which they would actively participate in the case.

“Initially, the victims only participated up to the submission point, but presently, we want to cross-examine all the witnesses now that the accused have been put on their defense,” their lawyer, Kelly Malenya, noted.

He added that the victims had waited for more than five years for justice, and thus needed the case tracked faster.

The victims could not hid thier happiness after being served the justice finally after a long wait.


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