NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 22 – The Nairobi City County on Tuesday announced that beginning June, it will for the fourth time embark on a project to clean the Nairobi Dam and turn it into a recreational park.
Chairman of the Nairobi Dam Restoration Taskforce Bartonjo Chesaina said that their strategy this time will involve neighbouring communities in the process to ensure the project’s success.
“The initial effort was in 2004 by the then Vice President Moody Awori which we believe was marred by underlying issues that were more political than social and it failed; the second effort was by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and even with all the power that comes with that office he was not able to restore the dam.”
“The late Mutula Kilonzo whilst the Nairobi Metropolitan Minister made a third attempt saying that he even wanted to one day swim in the dam but those plans did not materialise.”
“Our strategy this time is to involve the surrounding communities… the previous trials used a top to bottom kind of approach. This taskforce will use a bottom to top approach where area residents will be greatly involved in the cleaning process and setting up of the recreational areas around the dam and we are sure that with this strategy we will succeed,” explained Chesaina.
According to Chesaina, the restoration of the dam will not only offer recreational facilities to area residents but will also assist curb increased insecurity by smoking out gangs that have turned the dam into a hideout.
“The tough hyacinth has created a walkway for the criminals to cross into the estates and back into the slums effortlessly.”
“In fact, we worry that in the cleanup process we will find skeletons and all sorts of weapons that the criminals have hidden away or thrown into the water,” he added.
Speaking at the commissioning of the taskforce, Chesaina announced that the Nairobi City County had pledged to allocate Sh200 million in their next budget come June, money that he says is a drop in the ocean as the complete restoration will cost between Sh700 million and Sh1 billion.
He added that the National Government had also promised to assist in the project and called on Non-Governmental Organizations to assist in the project that will take three years to complete.
A member of the 11-man taskforce, John Gakuo, said: “The restored dam will serve as a source of emergency water supply in case of fires. The last time we had a major fire in Kibera, the fire fighting team had to source for water from Kabete.”
“The landlords will also have a reason to smile because as soon as we have rehabilitated the dam then the value of their houses will go up. Currently when it rains the dam exhumes a very foul smell which drives away potential property buyers or tenants,” he said.
In 2012 former PM Odinga, during the announcement of the establishment of a recreational park in memory of the late Environment Minister John Michuki at the Globe Cinema interchange, instructed the Ministry of Environment to complete the cleaning of the Nairobi Dam.
“The ministry will spend Sh10 million to begin cleaning up Mathare and Ngong Rivers. The ministry has also been directed to complete its plan to clean up Nairobi Dam,” he announced at the time.
Odinga argued that the country’s waterways were crucial in sustaining food security and it was therefore important to restore and preserve them.
“Our lakes and rivers are also our national treasures and they are invaluable assets to food security,” he noted.