Heavy rains coupled by massive environmental degradation caused Solai Dam in Nakuru to burst five years ago killing 48 people and destroying property worth millions of shillings.
According to expert reports, heavy rains pounding the county in May 2018 and illegal ferrying of trees around the dam led to cloudburst that caused the sudden flooding.
This came as it emerged that the area had recorded tremors some days before the dam burst on the 9th of May leading to the deaths.
This emerged at the Naivasha law courts where nine of the accused persons started their defense in a case that has dragged on for over four years.
In the case, Perry Manusukh who is a director at Solai Farm and the others are charged with 48 counts of manslaughter and failing to prepare an environmental impact assessment report.
The other eight are Vinoj Jaya Kumar, Johnson Njuguna, Luka Kipyegen, Winnie Muthoni, Jacinta Were, Tomkin Odo Odhiambo, Williec Omondi and Lynette Cheruiyot.
In his defense, Manusukh told the court that he was not the owner of the farm as accused by the State but a director and a shareholder.
He said that the farm where the dam was located was run by his late father Patel Mansukh who died on 21st June 2021.
With a show of reports from government agencies, Manusukh told the court that the country had experienced heavy and excessive rains which led to flooding.
“As per the report by the Rift Valley investigating committee, torrential rains over a period of time led to floods which swept away boulders, logs and soil leading to the deaths,” he said.
Through Senior Counsel Pravin Bowry, the businessman said that the report attributed the flash floods to deforestation and increased agricultural activities around the dam and riparian land.
“Soon after the incident, we de-commissioned the dam as directed by the government and this was a natural phenomenon caused by rains,” he said.
Manusukh, told Naivasha Chief Magistrate Nathan Lutta that he was not the owner of the farm adding that land was owned by Kensalt and Solai Group of companies.
He added that he was out of the country when the incident occurred adding that the management had acquired all set of licenses from the State which indicated that the dam was safe.
During the hearing, the magistrate rejected a report from the meteorological department noting that it had not been certified or signed by the issuing officers.