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NEMA tightens grip on wetlands

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) says it is identifying water bodies in the country to enforce wetland regulations.

NEMA Deputy Director Stephen Katua told Capital News that any upcoming constructions near wetland areas will be required to be 30 metres away.

“Most of the laws specify a setback limit of 30 metres for any permanent development, from now on any new development must adhere to this,” he said.

The regulation gazetted in February this year allowed a grace period of six months. Mr Katua said in the next two months, the regulation will be implemented a move likely to see several constructions brought down.

He said buildings constructed on such areas will be affected depending on their developmental value and if they were constructed before the regulation was gazetted.

Following constructions on wetlands, environmentalist Prof Wangari Maathai launched a campaign dubbed ‘Enough is Enough’ to reclaim Nairobi’s wetland areas.

She has accused the government of double-speak in its promise to conserve the environment wondering how private developers got licenses to construct on wetlands.

NEMA which is charged with ensuring that such buildings do not cause any environmental threats has meanwhile defended itself against approval of the constructions.

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Mr Katua said NEMA has existed only for five years and that most of the buildings on wetlands were constructed before it came into being.

However he said NEMA had stopped constructions on wetlands a directive that private developers had ignored or moved to court to prohibit them from stopping their constructions.

The Kenya Alliance of Residents Associations (KARA) on the other hand accused NEMA of failing to do its work.

KARA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Mutoro said NEMA should explain how private developers got licenses to construct buildings on wetlands in their existence.

Mr Mutoro also accused the Lands Ministry and the City Council of allowing such constructions.


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