, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – Senators have bashed the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) accusing it of sleeping on the job and allowing people to pollute the country’s water resources.
Kitui Senator David Musila accused NEMA of wasting the country’s resources by engaging in sideshows and not doing enough to fight pollution.
The matter which came up on Wednesday also saw the senators oblige the government to take immediate steps to stop river pollution, compensate those affected and issue a report on the concerns raised within 12 months.
“People are building industries and directing industrial waste into rivers without any control whatsoever and despite the fact that we have an organisation called NEMA. This organisation is a toothless bulldog; it is doing nothing,” he said.
He further lashed out at the environmental watchdog accusing it of acting as if eradicating pollution was ‘rocket science’ that required proper intelligence.
Kwale Senator Boy Juma Boy added that the government continued pumping money into NEMA and its line ministry to keep pollution in check but that the institutions were a flop.
“For how long will we keep debating this issue? If NEMA is not performing then it should be known that it is not performing. There is no need to keep people in big offices with big cars and ties yet they do not serve Kenyans,” he argued.
The senators further noted that people had been encroaching riparian areas without shame under NEMA’s watch.
This according to the senators continued polluting the rivers especially because most of the settlements did not have proper sewerage systems.
“People throw their human waste anywhere and this waste makes the situation worse,” noted Migori Senator Wilfred Machage.
The motion, which was fronted by Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, was unanimously supported by the members who felt that the pollution levels had reached an alarming level.
Although the motion had sought to compel the government to issue a report within six months while at the same time only mentioning Tana and Athi Rivers, it was amended to increase the timeline to one year and also to include all the country’s rivers.
“There is only one way forward and this is to say to the department of environment and natural resources together with NEMA to move first and stop the polluters of our great rivers. It won’t cost them anything; it’s just a matter of implementing the law which is already there,” Muthama explained.
Nominated Senators Beth Mugo and Martha Wangari also contributed to the debate with Mugo particularity calling for a ban of plastics.
However a similar bid had been fronted in 2005 and again in 2007 but flopped. At the time supermarkets said they would cut down on the use of plastic bags urging consumers to buy eco friendly bags.
Although the project on the eco-friendly bags kicked off in some areas, its uptake has been slow.