The environment watchdog has ordered the closure of over 40 garages in Nairobi. In a notice dated March 3, 2016 NEMA said the garages were illegally located in Mawe, a residential area. It was improper land use and it undermined the rights of residents to a healthy and clean environment as enshrined in the constitution. “You are therefore directed to stop the operation of the garages for those without any formal contracts with Kenya Railways Retirement Benefit Scheme in your area with immediate effect” partly read the notice signed by County Director of Environment Mr. Titus Wafula.
Those garages with formal contracts are required to stop operations within 14days with immediate restoration of the affected sites close to the original status. The notice requires all garage owners to submit a letter of commitment to the authority within 48hrs on receiving the notice. According to section 143 of Environment Management Coordination Act, anyone who fails to comply with the environment restoration order is liable to one year imprisonment or a minimum fine of Sh 2million.
According to a list submitted by the Kenya Railways Retirement Benefit Scheme, the number of garages permitted to operate in the estate (though without NEMA’s approval) are 19. However, estate Chairman Charles Tabu alleged that some of the scheme managers have been approving more garages and pocketing the monthly license fees on spaces allocated.
According to Mr. Tabu, there are 48 garages in the estate but what the pensioners’ scheme collects is for 19 garages. Developers are even being allocated way leaves and escape routes to set up business at the expense of the over 6000 residents. Two of the estate’s residents succumbed to cancer complications (lung & liver) last year, which residents are afraid were caused by the chemicals emitted by the garages works and an existing petrol depot in the estate. “We have a nursery school here with children yet petrol tankers criss-cross the estate every time. Such casual handling of our wellbeing cannot be tolerated.” Mr. Tabu said.