I’ll not be silenced on Solai Dam Tragedy – Susan Kihika

Nakuru senator Susan Kihika will this week be bringing a motion at the Senate to set up a Select Committee to carry out further investigations into the Solai Dam tragedy.

While addressing different gatherings in Nakuru Town on Monday, the senator who has been touted as the only sane voice in following up on the incidence said even though there was no criminal liability on Patel’s part, there is strict liability.

“When what you have on your farm causes damage, even though there might be no criminal liability, there is strict liability,” said the senator.

The Select Committee that will be drawn from both sides of the house will carry on the investigation based on an earlier fact-finding mission that the Senate Security committee had carried earlier on the site.

“The Senate Defence committee of which I am a member had gone to the site of the tragedy on a fact-finding mission. We established that there were dams built upstream with settlements built downstream. We also found that the owner of the farm Mr Patel had blocked two rivers thereby denying residents access to water which is naturally theirs,” revealed senator Kihika.

A report released towards the end of last week by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) showed that all the dams on the farm were illegal as none were licensed by NEMA or WARMA.

But even as the damning report was being released, and despite the death of over 48 residents and destruction of property worth of millions, a majority of Nakuru county leaders had continued to remain mute or take sides with the investor.

The office of the Nakuru County Governor had issued a statement assuring residents on the safety of the dams.

“As residents, we wonder why the county government is in a hurry to issue statements on the safety of the dams and proclaiming the tragedy was a natural accident even before conclusive investigations have been carried out,” a resident was heard saying.

Even the leaders from Solai and the larger Kabazi are not satisfied with the reports exonerating Patel and assurances that the dams are safe. Led by area MCA Peter Mbae the community will constitute legal proceedings for a reassessment of the dams on Patel farm. The MCA has also faulted the preliminary investigations by the DCI saying he suspects cover up.

Asked why she continued to be a lone voice in the quest for justice for the victims of the Solai Dam tragedy, senator Kihika has said that it was exactly for this reason that she was elected.

“These people woke up very early in the morning to vote for me. They elected me to represent them, to be there for them and to be their voice when they can’t speak for themselves. Some of them are now dead and can’t speak for themselves and I’ll continue speaking for them even in a majority of one,” said a determined Kihika.

Some leaders and residents have said that Patel is a huge investor and employer and should thus not be prosecuted or held culpable. However, Senator Kihika is having none of that.

“Patel may be a large employer and has done a lot of Community Social Responsibility (CSR) which we appreciate. But the same Patel has blocked two rivers upstream denying people what is naturally theirs. How do we say he’s giving them water when he has taken their water then goes ahead to give them a little of his dam water?” posed senator Kihika.