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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION: Raila Odinga Oversees Water Hyacinth Removal; Residents Claim Machines Lie Idle at Ports

The African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development Hon. Raila Odinga today inspected ongoing works on the removal of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria.

The water hyacinth has been a menace since it first appeared in the late 80s and increased rapidly in mid 90s covering large swathes of the lake, affecting economic activities particularly businesses, and transportation and stagnating economic development in the region.

Many efforts have been made to eradicate the menace to no avail. Recently, President Uhuru accompanied Raila to launch an aquatic weed harvester and desiltation vessel, but some residents have claimed that it has remained idle since then.

CAPTION: Dredging machine launched in January 2019 by Raila

Prior to this, the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) partnered with the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation through the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Program (LVEMP) bought a hyacinth harvesting equipment. But this has since remained idle pending necessary approvals.

CAPTION: Machine bought under LVEMP

All said, it remains to be seen what will happen since in May 2017, a UK firm completed setting up of a multi billion factory in Homabay to exploit the hyacinth.

Equinox energy Capital is said to have constructed the hyacinth-to-energy plant at a cost of Kes. 26 billion to add 35 megawatt to the national grid. Some residents feel that this might be one of the reasons for the delays in tackling the hyacinth problem.

Speaking at the same forum, Environment Cabinet Secretary (CS) Keriako Tobiko decried the level of pollution of water bodes in the area. He particularly stated that pollution of rivers would not be tolerated and ordered NEMA to identify institutions in Kisumu County that are polluting River Kibos, saying owners of such facilities will be prosecuted.

Raila was accompanied by Environment Cabinet Secretary (CS) Keriako Tobiko, Tourism CS Najib Balala, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju among other leaders .

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