Nema stops mass sand harvesting in Lake Victoria

A sand harvester machine, belonging to Hapex Building and Construction Company, at Karabondi Beach in Karachuonyo. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has stopped mass sand harvesting on the shores of Lake Victoria.

This was being undertaken by a private firm, Hapex Building and Construction Company, at Rambira Beach in Rachuonyo North sub-county.

The company intended to harvest over 80 tonnes of sand each day using special equipment.

County Commissioner Irungu Macharia and the county Nema boss John Maniafu said they had stopped the company’s operations.

Macharia said the company failed to comply with the legal requirements before embarking on the project.

“The company’s operation are illegal. We have stopped it from going ahead with its plan that would have seen massive sand harvested from the lake. Until it meets all the requirements, we will not allow the company’s operations,” said Macharia.

Maniafu said they stopped the project as the company failed to carry out environmental impact assessment, a prerequisite for such a projects.

“Lake Victoria is a fragile environment and such a project cannot be undertaken without environmental impact assessment,” said Maniafu.

He accused the company owner of installing the sand harvesting machine during Christmas season when many government offices were not operating.

“The owner of the company failed to turn up the day we had planned to meet him. We suspect his intentions are not good because he installed the machine at a time when many government offices had been closed for Christmas festivities,” said the Nema official.

He said they were also planning to charge the company owner with violating the law.

“We are in consultation with the legal department on how the owner of the company can be charged for operating illegally,” said Maniafu.

Karachuonyo MP Adipo Okuome had opposed mass sand harvesting in the area.