A report by the Kenya Human Rights Commission-KHRC has cited negligence as a major contributor to the Patel dam tragedy that occurred 16 days ago in Solai Nakuru County.
Addressing media in Nakuru on Friday, KHRC led by Executive Director George Kegoro said if there was no negligence then there could be no such tragedy.
The report compiled after a weeklong gathering of information in Solai has blamed laxity among government officers to act on information given to by members of the public as the greatest contributor to the tragedy.
“During our mission in Solai after the tragedy, the commission learnt of ignorance among state officers who include NEMA and WARMA officers to act on early warning information given to them about impending danger” he said.
According to KHRC, should the officers have acted on the information and taken the necessary action the dam tragedy could have been avoided.
Kegoro said that there seems to exist a strong corporate relationship between the local administration and the Patel family- a situation he said could have driven the officers to fail to act on information given.
However, while lauding the quick response taken by the county government of Nakuru and the disaster response team upon receiving news of the tragedy, Kegoro singled out the quick co-ordination of multi agencies which include Kenya Red Cross, the military, Nys and the national police service among others.
Among other discrepancies noted by the commission was the hurried move to conduct burial of those who perished during the tragedy, the state having take control of the funeral programme with little involvement of affected families, loopholes in the payment of consolation cash to the victims and poor co-ordination of the search and rescue mission from day two of the tragedy.
The commission has recommended that all eight dams within Patel coffee farm be emptied to avert any danger in future, proper accountability of relief items supplied, prosecution of the Patel farm management and state officers found culpable and also carrying out of thorough investigation by the directorate of criminal investigations and a report that effect compiled in two weeks time.
Among those interviewed by the commission include state officers, victims of the tragedy, human rights crusaders and journalists.
PHOTO/Pristone Mambili:Kenya Human Rights Commission led by Executive Director George Kegoro addressing media in Nakuru on on Friday 25th May 2015 on the Solai tragedy.