Relatives of Solai dam victims finally get Sh47m compensation

The aftermath of the Solai dam tragedy.

The aftermath of the Solai dam tragedy which killed 48 people.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Families of the 48 people who perished in the May 9, 2018 dam tragedy in Solai finally received their compensation after agreeing to an out-of-court deal.

Solai dam owner Perry Mansukh made out a cheque for Sh47 million, which was distributed through the families’ representatives on Friday.

In line with the deal reached following negotiations between the families’ lawyers the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the lawyers representing Mr Mansukh, Sh1.2 million was paid out for each adult life lost and Sh800,000 for that of a child.

The event took place at Kamukunji PCEA in Solai where the families were handed the cheques. It was attended by all the representatives that made up the negotiation team.

Senior Assistant DPP in charge of the region Hassan Abdi confirmed that each family received their cheques, which according to him, was the final piece of the agreement that brought to an end five-yearlong criminal proceedings against Mr Mansukh and seven other people implicated in the deaths.

In the case, the suspects were charged with 48 counts of manslaughter.

perry mansukhlal

 Patel Coffee Estates managing director, Perry Mansukhlal, appears before the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating the Solai Dam tragedy, on July 18, 2018.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The case, however, took a different turn when the magistrate upon request by the victims’ families allowed for out-of-court negotiations between the parties.

The deal was struck on November 15 when Mr Mansukh agreed to pay the amount while the families through the DPP agreed to withdraw the case.

When the matter came up for mention on November 20, the DPP applied to withdraw the case after presenting the consent before the court.

Matter marked as withdrawn

The court allowed the application on Thursday and the matter was marked as withdrawn paving the way for the payment.

Mr Ben Njuguna who lost his sister and her two children confirmed that the family received cheques totalling Sh3.2 million.

He expressed his satisfaction with compensation, which he said, will end the longstanding tussle between the families and Mr Mansukh.

“This is a better option from the continued push and pull in court. The families were already tired of the case and were ready to resolve it out of court," said Mr Njuguna.

According to him, the family will now buy another parcel of land for his niece who finished high school last year, and build a house and establish a business for him," said Mr Njuguna.

Mr Isaac Muna who lost his wife was also happy with the deal and thanked the negotiators.

"I received the cheque and deposited it in a fixed deposit account while I plan on what to do with the money. Even though it cannot be equivalent to the life we lost, I am glad to be relieved of the hustling in court,” he said.

Mr Muna noted that what he was more interested in was the apology from the dam owner which he got when Mr Mansukh met them.

“We are now waiting for compensation for the property we lost during the tragedy, a matter that is still before the court.

However, Mr John Mwangi, a retired teacher who lost his wife has some reservations over the negotiations. “I would wish were informed of every step of the negotiations to avoid being rushed through a process we had no idea about,” said Mr Mwangi.

According to him, the award money should have been higher.