, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – About three million tones of solid waste have been cleared up from the Nairobi River and its surroundings according, to Environment Minister John Michuki.
This is part of an effort to clean up the polluted river. Mr Michuki said on Thursday that pollution in the river had been stopped in the clean up exercise that is expected to last three years at an estimated cost of Sh16 billion.
“We have been trying to meet what I promised one and a half years ago and that is to clean the Nairobi River and make it flow and stop pollution and discharge of human waste,” he said.
“I started with Dagoretti market and I have received telephone calls and letters thanking me for that action because the stench that used to spread right through to Kikuyu and surrounding areas disappeared,” he added.
He said the Ministry and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) have worked out a way of ensuring the river remained clean even after the clean up exercise was finished.
“We anticipated that there would be nobody to maintain this and so in September last year, I directed the Director General of NEMA (Muusya Mwinzi) to issue a notice to an agency and in this case an agency includes a local authority, a ministry of government or parastatal for them to remove solid waste from their towns,” the Minister said.
He said section 12 of the National Environmental Management and Coordination Act gave him the powers to do so.
At the same time, the Environment Minister called for immediate action to be taken to conserve the Mau forest complex and avoid further destruction.
Mr Michuki blamed the local leadership for lack of progress and said they had failed to cooperate and support the solutions the government wanted to employ.
A report by a 21- member taskforce formed by Prime Minster Raila Odinga last year to formulate solutions to the Mau complex saga is yet to be discussed by Cabinet.
“The Mau saga is a very sad case where people continue talking as the situation continues to deteriorate. We must take quick action even if we have to lose politically because we may come again after losing politically but when Mau is gone it is gone forever,” he stated.
The Minister said law should be enforced in the conservation efforts.
“You know every country must conduct its own affairs on the basis of the rule of law. There are laws to govern situations such as Mau and other forests that are being destroyed like Cherang’any and Mt Kenya. Those laws should be applied and I will be one of those who support the Minister responsible if he applies those laws,” he said.
He added that the Ministries of Environment and Forestry were coming up with a plan to ensure the country had a forest cover of 10 percent by the year 2030. Currently Kenya has a forest cover of less than two percent.
"This means we shall plant 7.6 billion trees in 20 years over an area of 4.1 million hectares,” he said and added that it was possible to do it because there were enough resources.
“We have enough human resource and what we need is additional money from our development partners and ourselves to achieve this. We will use our 35,000 schools to grow trees, regional development authorities, Ministry of Northern Kenya development, women groups and the youths,” he said.
He also said they would supply tanks and gutters to schools for water harvesting to establish tree nurseries.