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Hope for Loldaiga fire victims as court promises compensation soon

Over 5,000 victims of the Loldaiga fire in Laikipia County believed to have been started off by British army training in the area two years ago have edged closer to getting compensated after the court granted rules of procedure that shall govern the Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee (IGLC).

Nanyuki Environment and Lands court judge Antonina Bor on Wednesday granted the rules on that would govern the directions that the IGLC would follow in determining the compensation claims.

Through their lawyer Kelvin Kubai, the victims welcomed the move but still lamented the process for seeking for justice has been slow that has also seen close to 70 community members die as they wait for compensation following the March 2021 fire that destroyed the entire ecosystem of their area.

The victims claimed that the fire left them with myriad ailments as a result of inhaling fumes from burning chemicals from the inferno that took weeks to contain.

“We welcome the move by the court as this signal a positive move on the case, but we are still skeptical given the torturous nature of this case and given the lack of precedence in such a manner the claimants may not be really able to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt,” Kubai said.

The victims’ lawyer added that they hoped that the procedures have the understanding of the nature of the case and the provisions of the constitution of Kenya especially on environmental issues.

The Lolldaiga community has been embroiled in a court case for nearly two years with the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) over a fire sparked during military training exercises that destroyed more than 10,000 acres of vegetation at the Lolldaiga conservancy in March 2021.

The community and environmental lobby group African Centre for Corrective and Preventive Action sued Batuk, claiming the fire emitted smoke that contained dangerous chemicals and explosives and caused adverse health effects like serious eyesight problems and miscarriages in humans and livestock.

“Article 42 provides that someone does not need to prove harm where an environmental violation has been committed against him or her,” the lawyer said.

Kubai observed that delays from the British army in participating in the collection of claim forms had seen the drag in courts for nearly two years.

“They (British army) even conducted an environmental Impact Assessment in our absence on the area and we were forced to conduct our own for the same for the purposes of strengthening our case,” Kubai said.

The matter will be mentioned in two weeks’ time on the 28th of this month. Lawyer Lawrence Ondieki is representing Batuk in the matter.

By Martin Munyi

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