Residents of Wambugu Farm area in Nyeri Town Constituency have protested against construction of a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) plant by a private developer within the area saying it was a disaster in waiting.
The fears of the locals are not unfounded as seven years ago an explosion occurred at an LPG plant at Giakanja Trading Centre about five kilometers away killing two people and critically injuring five others.
They said they were opposed to its establishment given the area was residential and thus its existence posed a huge risk to their lives given that LPG was potentially hazardous with main risks being fire and explosion.
“Wambugu Farm area is meant for construction of residential houses, but unfortunately from nowhere we have started seeing somebody establish a gas plant deport,” lamented resident Julius Gichuki.
He said no proper public participation was carried out to gather their opinions and prior to the plant establishment.
Gichuki said they only heard that a public hearing was done allegedly involving people who were ‘imported’ from other areas as none of the locals was invited.
Following this unprecedented move, the residents said they wrote a petition letter to the area National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and County Commissioner’s office but they have got no response yet.
According to construction site signage, the plant has been approved by Nema.
“We are appealing to our government to have this plant relocated elsewhere where it will not pose risk to people,” Gichuki said.
Another resident, Wangechi Wanjithi, said the construction works started with a perimeter wall and they all thought the land owner was preparing to put up a residential house.
“All along we thought it was a residential house being put up until we heard it was a gas plant and we started seeing gas tanks and containers being installed,” said Ms. Wanjithi.
“We appreciate the plant could be a source of employment to people here, but the risk it poses outweighs the economic gains,” said the resident.
The owner of the plant could not reached for a comment.