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Machine worth Sh81m idle as water hyacinth chokes Lake Victoria

By Kevine Omollo | Published Sat, January 7th 2017 at 12:36, Updated January 7th 2017 at 12:42 GMT +3
An Aquatic harvester that was purchased at a cost of Sh81 Million by the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project II (LVEMP II), to be used to harvest water hyacinth. The harvester has been anchored at the Kisumu Pier as the weed continues to choke the lake. [PHOTO: PHILLIP ORWA/STANDARD]

An Sh81 million water hyacinth harvester is lying idle at the Kisumu Port as the weed spreads further on Lake Victoria.

The Lake Victoria Environmental Management Program (LVEMP) bought the equipment after it was proved the weed can be mechanically removed. This is after Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) partnered with the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation to harvest the hyacinth.

LVEMP Communication Officer Nicholas Manyoro said lake users may have to wait longer to see a clear lake as certain procedures have to be followed before the machine can become operational.

“After procuring the machine, it had to be inspected by relevant government authorities, and that process is still on. When complete, we will have to get a parcel of land where the weed will be disposed, as well as buy tracks to ferry it from the lake shores to the dumping site,” he said.

Mr Manyoro said the National Environmental Management Authority will have to do an environmental assessment before approving the dump site. LVEMP, a government-funded programme tasked with securing the Lake Basin surrounding has spent more than Sh1 billion in preserving the lake for over a decade now.

KMA has since warned fishermen, leisure boat operators and transport boats to keep off shores that have been infested with the weed to avoid being marooned.

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“We are urging County Governments bordering the lake to partner with LVEMP III and other like minded donors to pool resources towards eradication of water hyacinth. We however, advise boat owners and operators against venturing into the waters when the water hyacinth is within sight or is expected to approach and cover the beaches in the lake,” read a statement from KMA acting Director General Cosmas Cherop.

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