3000 victims of lead poisoning from Owino Uhuru slums in Changamwe Mombasa are delighted following an award of Sh 1.3 billon by Environment Court judge Justice Anne Omollo in Mombasa.
Speaking Friday during a fact finding mission the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action [CJGEA] Executive Director Phyllis Omido said she was a victim of the lead poison by a battery manufacturing factory TRC Ltd that led to the formation of the environmental action body.
She said they had embarked on a four years’ court battle leading to Thursday’s ruling in their favour.
Omido said the residents suffering from effects of the poisonous substance for a long time since 2009 when four children tested positive after investigations.
She adds that both water and soils samples tested turned positive for lead after people started complaining of health complications some with visible symptoms of the poison according to medical reports.
MS Omido appealed to the government to team up with the people, compensate victims to buy medications as well oblige to carry out Sh. 700million remediation exercise to clean up all the lead elements in the area.
She asserted that the victorious ruling came but it was too late since many victims are already dead.
“The court gave the company 120 days to clean up the environment if not so pay additional Sh. 700 million for the locals to carry out the cleaning of the area.
Phyllis Omido cautioned against appealing the court ruling adding that children and adults paid with their blood and added that the law be obeyed for people to get justice.
She called on the government to compensate the victims within 90 days as directed by the court failure to which they will go back to the people since power belongs to the people and decide way forward.
Omido said if payment is made, each of the victims will walk home with Sh17million which will help them purchase drugs and cater for long lasting remedies from the effects of the poison.
She said the payment will motivate them as well as other communities in quest for their rights.
Jackson Wanyama who was an employee at the TRC Company lost two children from the ravages of the complications related to lead poisoning.
Stephen Okelo lost his six year-son Samuel Omondi in 2016 after a long battle with diseases related to the poison.
Irene Akinyi is ailing and frequents the hospital with a swollen neck and fevers after she tested for lead in 2009.
“I have faith since I will get medicine, afford kidney transplant and dialysis according to doctors recommendations” said Irene adding that she cannot afford medicine or the medical procedures or even food rich in calcium such as milk and bananas to lower the impacts of lead which is at level 420 in her blood and life threatening.
She is saddened when she remembers how painful her swelling gets especially during cold weather where she is forced to remain indoors throughout.
By Joseph Kamolo