Bernard Gitau, Mercy Mwai and Hillary Mageka
Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) yesterday took responsibility for the 2015 oil spillage at Kiboko, Makueni county, and apologised to residents.
However, the State corporation said compensation of the 1,182 victims of the disaster may be difficult due to complications in verifying the medical claims.
Appearing before National Assembly’s Environment committee yesterday, KPC acting managing director Hudson Andambi told MPs that the company has not been able to verify claims made by residents since most of them were duplicate or fraudulently acquired reports by individuals and not residents.
Andambi told the committee, chaired by Maara MP Kareke Mbiuki, that the company through its insurer has, however, settled 266 claims worth Sh31 million in respect to livestock and crop losses.
Kibwezi East MP Jessica Mbalu sought to know what mitigation measures had been taken since the spillage and the compensation status.
At the same time, the Senate Energy committee has given the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), formerly Energy Regulatory Commission, a 7-day ultimatum to investigate the cause of the spillage.
The directive followed revelations that KPC cannot still explain what caused a leak on its new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline close to three months after spillage that contaminated clean water sources for area residents.
“You have seven days to visit the site and file your report to this committee,” said Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina, the committee chair.
Senators Ochillo Ayacko (Migori), Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) and Ledama ole Kina (Narok) queried the regulator’s indecisiveness to take action against KPC top managers, saying EPRA had let Kenyans down.
In defence, EPRA managing director Pavel Oimeke said he was “surprised” by the revelations that the newly-laid pipeline did not have a leak detector.
He claimed that the permit issued to KPC during the tendering process for the pipeline factored a leak detector.
EPRA Petroleum and Gas acting director Edward Kinyua claimed the pipeline has proper cathodic protection, which is supposed to protect the pipeline from corrosion, but during the laying of the pipeline a boulder hit the pipeline and damaged part of the supporting protection.
Speaking in Makueni on Monday, KPC acting general manager (Operations and Maintenance) Joshua Mutea said the spillage was due to failure by the management to install a leak detection system before commissioning the Sh50 billion project.
Spillage from 450km oil pipeline is said to have polluted Kiboko natural springs and Kiboko river that residents relied on for domestic use and medium-scale horticulture and aqua farming.