A case filed by residents of Runda Gardens Residents Association opposing the construction of a church in the neighbourhood has been referred to the environment tribunal.

Justice Loice Komingoi faulted the residents for filing the case before the Environment and Land court before first exhausting the mechanism provided by the law in such cases.

“I find that the plaintiff ought to have invoked the jurisdiction of National Environment Tribunal before moving to this court,” the judge said.

The association moved to court last year, opposing the construction Fountain Gate Church in the area.They also faulted the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for granting the trustees of the church the approval, without seeking their reservations.Apart from stopping the construction, the residents also through its chairman Mr. Vincent Kioko, sought the demolition of the structures that had already started on the disputed plot.

The association told the court that they wrote to NEMA raising concerns of its members but got no response from the regulator, who also refused to share the approval documents with them.But the trustees of the church faulted the association for moving to court before exhausting dispute resolution mechanism provided by the Physical Planning Act and Environmental Management Co-ordination Act.

In the ruling, Justice Komingoi said Section 9(2) and (3) of the Fair Administrative Action Act, implores courts to take up matters only if it is shown that the alternative mechanisms have been exhausted.

“I find that the applicant has failed to demonstrate that there existed exceptional circumstances to warrant it to move this court before exhausting the mechanism set out in the Act,” the judge said.