National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has suspended four of its officials linked to the Embakasi Gas explosion.
The four include the Director of Environmental Compliance and Acting Deputy Director of Compliance.
Two other officers from the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) were suspended. These were the Senior Environmental Officer and the Head of Environmental Impact Assessment.
Notably, the directive was issued after President William Ruto ordered the suspension and arrest of officials accused of negligence and issuing certificates of operation to the illegal gas plant.
President William Ruto during a consultive meeting with political leaders from Lamu County at State House, Nairobi on December 14, 2023.
“The Board further requests the relevant government agencies to commence an immediate investigation. The National Environment Management Authority’s Management is also hereby directed to cooperate with the already established multi-agency teams handling the incident,” the statement by Emilio Mugo, the Chairman NEMA Board of Management.
“We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Kenyans who lost their lives and wish a quick recovery to the injured,” the board added.
In its preliminary investigations, the board stated that the gas plant owners forwarded an Environment Impact Assessment project report to NEMA while seeking permission to install and operate the Embakasi facility.
This report was submitted on July 29, 2020. Two years later, in April 2022, NEMA forwarded it to various agencies for sectorial review and comments to guide on the licensing process.
Among the agencies consulted were the Energy & Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), the Director of Physical Planning – Nairobi City, the Water Resources Authority, the Directorate of Occupational Safety and Health, Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company and the Director of Urban Planning and Development.
On July 28, of the same year, a review of the project was done and several issues were raised with NEMA asking the gas owners to address them before another scheduled review.
NEMA sought clarity on the land ownership and asked the owners to provide evidence of undertaking consultation with immediate neighbours of the Nyayo Estate Residents Association. The proponents of the project respond vide documents dated August 22, 2022 and February 1, 2023.
“The Project Proponent submitted a comprehensive EIA report with potential impacts identified and mitigation measures proposed in the Environmental Management Plan. A record of the decision was made to issue the proposed project with an ElA licence,” NEMA stated.
It issued the licence with conditions that the owners ought to have met, including compliance with various laws in the construction of the LPG plant.
However, the NEMA Board highlighted gaps in the issuance of the license to the LPG plant in question. Further investigations revealed that the four suspended NEMA officers unprocedurally processed the license.
“The Board therefore directs that the implicated officers step aside immediately pending further investigation by the relevant government agencies,” NEMA explained its decision to adhere to Ruto’s directive.
Firefighters at the Embakasi explosion on February 2, 2024.
Ministry of Interior