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Costly river clean up plan

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 -The government intends to use Sh15 billion to rehabilitate polluted rivers in Nairobi over a three-year period.

Addressing a consultative forum of the 17 Ministries enlisted for the project on Thursday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the Treasury had already set aside Sh4.5 billion for the undertaking.

Mr Odinga revealed that donors and development partners had expressed willingness to foot the remaining chunk of the bill.

 “The Minister for Environment has assured me that we can restore these rivers by hook or crook and if that is what it will take, I will stand by him,” Mr Odinga said.

The premier warned developers whose property falls within a 30 meter-riparian reserve that their investments would be brought down.

 “As from today, those who approve building and construction plans must ensure that the uses of 30 meter riparian are restricted to those of sustainable ecological development,” the Premier directed.

The PM attributed the sorry state of rivers in Nairobi to poor management of waste disposal but reiterated that the current situation would not be entertained.

He ordered the ministries to create a budget line specifically to address way of reversing the environmental rot along the rivers of Ngong, Kamiti, Ruaka, Gatharaini, Nairobi, and Mathare whose water canals remain clogged. 

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Mr Odinga revisited government’s hard-line stance to protect further depletion of the Mau forest in spite of resistance from several quarters. He said the country had the responsibility to conserve the environment for the posterity of future generations.

“The impact of human activities on the environment is enormous and hard decisions must be taken to safeguard the ecosystem not only in Mau but in the Mt Kenya, the Aberdares, Cherangany and Mt Elgon where the survival of the forest cover was under threat,” the PM said.

Mr Odinga challenged the private sector and other corporations to chip in and finance the rehabilitation.

The PM said the restoration of the rivers would create jobs as many people would be absorbed into the waste management activities and waterfront related businesses which he said had thrived in other developed countries.

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