NAIROBI, August 26 – The government will soon implement a levy on plastics as a way of managing waste in all urban centres in the country, Environment Minister John Michuki said Tuesday.,
The ‘Green Levy’ would go towards environmental conservation, Michuki revealed, and is part of four areas of strategic intervention by the Ministry for the next five years.
He said it was also part of urban environmental renewal which included the rehabilitation and restoration of the Nairobi Dam.
“We must galvanise national action and do all we can to reverse these negative trends,” the Minister stated.
“We cannot wait and this is why I have decided not to wait. This is why we closed slaughter houses and we are going to close industries that pollute because we would rather not have them and save our lives.”
The other areas of intervention are mainstreaming environmental issues in all sectors of the economy, strengthening the institutions concerned to deliver their key mandates on environment, awareness creation and promoting partnership.
Michuki urged all Kenyans to take the initiative and responsibility to conserve the environment.
“We must arise as citizens in every village, town and from all communities to salvage what is remaining of our environment,” he urged, adding that “this is not a light matter nor is it politics as usual.”
The Minister was speaking at the launch of a countrywide environmental education and awareness initiative in Nairobi, where he also emphasised on the need for sustainable interventions.
“Kenya like many developing countries is caught at the crossroads between balancing the needs of a growing human population and increasingly dwindling natural resources,” he noted.
“I don’t know whether you have noticed that the hippos in Nairobi River have migrated to the sewers of Ruai and this is not a joke.”
He added that land degradation, deforestation and destruction of water catchment areas in the country were getting out of hand.
“Loss of top soil through erosion will inevitably lead to a decline in agricultural productivity and loss of scarce water resource, through accelerated runoff.”
“Many of our prime protected areas, national parks and game reserves are threatened by encroaching land use practices that are incompatible with conservation.”
At the same time United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, noted that the launch of the awareness campaign was the first step towards helping people understand environmental issues affecting the country.
“The fact that this initiative has been taken shows commitment, determination and impatience to reverse the environmental degradation that is taking place.”
“We talk about the vision 2030 in Kenya. What kind of a vision do you as an individual have for Kenya, is it a brown vision or is it a green vision, is it a vision where more and more forests will disappear?” Steiner challenged.
The Minister also introduced a green ribbon to be a symbol of the National Environmental Education and Awareness Campaign.