What you need to know:
- Negotiations held on Tuesday involved representatives of the 48 families, the Director of Public Prosecutions lawyers for the dam owners and the owners themselves.
- The dam owners are ready to start making payments once the court approves the deal during the next mention date.
Families affected by the Solai dam tragedy of May 9, 2018, will receive compensation totalling Sh57.6 million after agreeing to an out-of-court deal with dam owner Perry Mansukh.
Mr Mansukh’s dam burst, killing 48 people. He has agreed to compensate the families Sh1.2 million for each adult life lost and Sh800,000 per child.
Negotiations held Tuesday, Nation learnt, involved representatives from the 48 families, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), the dam owners, and their lawyers.
Mr Boniface Masinde, a lawyer representing Mansukh, confirmed that the parties met in Solai to finalise and formalise the deal following a series of negotiations.
The dam owners are ready to begin payments once the court approves the deal during the next mention date.
“The court had given parties liberty to negotiate and now that we have a deal, all the parties will approach the court to persuade the magistrate to endorse it,” said Mr Masinde.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission, representing 29 families, confirmed the deal through their Programmes manager Mary Kambo. She mentioned that the dam owner had initially proposed to pay Sh500,000 for adult victims and Sh300,000 for minors but the families would have none of it, leading to the current deal.
Senior Assistant Director of Prosecution Hassan Abdi welcomed the agreement, terming it a major promotion of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
“The parties have been negotiating to settle the matter out of court, which we fully support. It was the best direction to take for the benefit of all parties,” said Mr Abdi.
KHRC lawyer Kelly Malenya stated that the ODPP was at the centre of the negotiations initiated by the families.
Malenya said the case had dragged on in court and was weighing down on the families, who, apart from compensation, sought an apology.
John Mwangi, chairperson of the victims, expressed gratitude for the new development, especially the fact that the families had finally met Perry Mansukh, saying, he had been fed negative information about the victims and had been shunning them.
“We are happy to meet Mansukh, who apologised to us. We realised that he had no problem with us, only that he had been told wrong things about us. We are content with what he has offered us,” said Mr Mwangi.
Mr Mansukh was charged in 2018 with 48 counts of manslaughter following the tragedy.
He was charged alongside nine others, including his farm manager Vinoj Kumar.
They denied the charges and were released on Sh5 million bail each.
After the prosecution hearing, the suspects were found with a case to answer on April 27.
The case will be mentioned on November 20 before the court in Naivasha.