KISUMU, Kenya Jan 22 – A water hyacinth harvester machine purchased at Sh100 million in 2015 has been transferred from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to the Ministry of East Africa and Regional Development to start operation.
The machine that was idle at the Port of Kisumu was purchased by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry through phase two of the Lake Victoria Environmental Project (LVEMP) jointly funded by the government and the World Bank.
Environmental and Forestry Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo handed over the harvester to Dr Margaret Mwakima, Principal Secretary, State Department for Regional and Northern Corridor Development.
Kiptoo said the harvester will be under the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) since it works with a number of counties within the Lake Victoria Basin.
“As a ministry of environment we feel that the issue of managing the water hyacinth can best be done by the Lake Basin Development Authority because it covers more counties,” he said.
The PS said resources in the lake are threatened by the weed thus the urgency to operationalize the harvester which has stayed for long without doing the intended work.
Mwakima hailed the transfer of the asset to her ministry and challenged the management of LBDA to take up the challenge and ensure the weed is eradicated out of the lake.
“It is now the responsibility of LBDA to ensure that this water hyacinth becomes a history as far as Lake Victoria is concerned,” she said.
Mwakima announced that the harvester is able to harvest 3 tones per every harvest and can harvest 15 tones per hour.
The machine took too long to operate due to lack of some components which had to be shipped from abroad.
The ministry of environment and forestry also handed over two trucks to LBDA to ferry the weed from the lake’s shores once it is removed.
According to researchers, satellite images indicate that the weed has taken over about 4,000 hectares of the lake, blocking several beaches and hindering transport and fishing expeditions in what is blamed on the reduction of fish in the country.