The Solai tragedy victims are a frustrated lot. A ruling passed by a Naivasha court left the victims with more questions than answers.
The Patel Dam burst its banks in 2018, killing 48 people and displacing several others. The victims were swept by raging waters leading to huge losses and pain (emotional and physical). Public amenities like schools were also shut due to the massive destruction.
The court ruling has spelt doom on the victims and hopes to ever get any compensation have diminished. The accused persons in the case were the Managing Director of the Estate Mr Perry Mansukh Kansagara and the General Manager of Patel Coffee Estate Mr Vinoj Jaya Kumar. The other persons were three officials from the Water Resources Authority (WRA) and two others.
The accused had been charged with 48 counts of manslaughter.
The Patels had blocked three rivers to feed the dam, and it is suspected that the dam burst its walls as a result of an overflow. The Patels operated another eight similar dams without the required licenses.
In May 2018, a joint venture between the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Mid-Rift Human Rights Network and Freedom of Information Network came together to help the Solai Victims.
They dug deep into finding the real cause of the tragedy. From their findings, it was found that the dam had no legal permits; there were existing cracks before the real disaster happened. It was also found that the owners of the dam had diverted rivers to the dam illegally.
The victims of the Solai tragedy felt lost and dejected after the court ruling.
The DPP has poked holes in the ruling, and he felt that justice had not been served. He had previously requested that the case be heard in Nairobi, but his plea was never granted.
“I am alarmed by the ruling. We were still in negotiations with some of the parties for the plea bargaining agreement, and the court knew this’. Said Mr Haji.
The victims who attended the court session could not hide their tears and sorrows. The court was their last beam of hope, but it turned otherwise.
They can only hope that justice will prevail when the case goes for appeal.