Schools affected by quarrying in Kakamega

Residents demonstrating the effects of the quarry.

The Multi Million World Bank road project along the Kakamega Webuye highway faces an eminent closure if relevant authorities including institutions are not compensated as agreed.

The noose has tightened over the neck of the Chinese company involved in the blasting and crushing of murrum in Kakamega North Sub County after several school joined in the fray to stop the exercise over failure by the former to compensate for damages.

This is after word went round that the drilling company Jiangxi Zhongomei (JZEC) had secretly purchased another piece of land adjacent to the initial blasting site where they planned to start the excavation activities early next week without settling the pending debts it owes the locals and schools within at large.

In a meeting attended by the locals and school representatives, the residents who were led by their Makhwabuye quarry community against quarrying and crushing chairman Isaac Mutanyi and Secretary Tabitha Tuyia, stated that it was either their way or no way at all for the Chinese to either compensate them first for the cracked houses before they freshly negotiate for the second blasting or alternatively they pack their belongings and move out.

In a memorandum of understanding signed by the two community officials, and also to be served to the World bank country director, county director of education among others relevant organization it states that there will be no further activities at the new site until the contractor honors the pledge between itself and the community.

The school representatives led by the Malava county polytechnic board of management chairman Wasimbi Muchanja, said time for theatrics and acrobatic maneuvers by the contractor was over and it should either abide as per the agreement or move out indefinitely after two years of empty promises.

The chairman who was charged wondered why the contractor had engaged the community in a hide and seek games and pointed out that the compensation being demanded by them was already slotted in the blasting budget hence they should not fear to demand for their rights as it was enshrined in the constitution.

We are facing a lot of danger from this contractors and we as an institution we have almost all our buildings cracks and we had reached an agreement with these people that they will handle the issue and now they want to start blasting again without settling the first debt now how will they be able to differentiate the earlier and latter cracks on our infrastructure, let them come over and evaluate the depth of damage then pay out before they begin over again.

Muchanja maintained that the institution was not going to allow more damage to its infrastructure without proper and documented agreement on the modalities of payment put in place.

Quarry activities along the road. Image|Courtesy

The Malava primary BOM chairman said the project had adversely affected the school infrastructure that saw the public health condemning all the toilets at the school and directed that the school be closed but the contractor intervened promising to compensate to do the repairs.

“To add on that our classrooms have cracked but are housing large population of pupils from private schools and it is a looming danger as anything might happen and we as a school wants the contractor to pay us so that we can carry out necessary renovation that include even the administration block to normalize learning failure to which we could be sitting on a time bomb that could go off anytime.

The deputy head teacher Amos Makokha representing the head Peter Sammy Sikolia said the school was on verge of closure after failure by it to renovate the six classrooms condemned together with the toilets.

He said the head teacher was thinking of taking the legal way if the contractor was unwilling to pay for the damages as it was the only suitable way to seek redress.

The director of the Malanga Patience academy Beatrice Mavuka added her voice of how the blasting has been a nuisance to her learning programme with the contractor directing them to evacuate now and then when blasting exercise is on saying this has affected her academic performance despite discouraging many parents to enroll their children there.

“This is a private owned school and we have baby class to standard 8 and this noise blasting, and dust from quarrying has been a big problem to our young ones who have been able to fully concentrate due to the disruptions, beside we have just like other schools cracked classrooms and latrines and even floors and we have not been paid anything up to know and we hear that they want to start again the exercise, we don’t know what will happen to our buildings as they are already weakened by the earlier activities.

She wished that it could be stopped for the sake of the surrounding schools including the biggest extra county (Malava Boys and Girls) who have also suffered immense loss from the drilling exercise.

Her head teacher Harun Mukopi Mavonga said they had incurred a lot of losses from the construction site and failure by them to compensate the school has seen its intake drop and the school physical infrastructures being dilapidated and urged the government to intervene to ensure that they get justice.

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