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Water hyacinth harvester roars back after five years

By Kepher Otieno | January 26th 2021 at 12:42:59 GMT +0300

Sh81 million water hyacinth harvester put back to work after stalling for five years (PHOTO: Kepher Otieno).

The Government has finally commissioned the Sh81 million water hyacinth harvester after lying idle for five years and handed it over to the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA).

The multi-million shilling machine, bought by the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project II and funded by the national government and the World Bank stalled in 2016.

The Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo handed over the machine and two load trucks to LBDA for shipment and disposal of the harvested weed from the Lakeshore.

Kiptoo regretted machine had not been used years after it was bought after it broke down during trial after marine engineers cited missing components and mechanical problems for its state of affairs.

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The PS said the issues of procurement concerning the machine had been resolved and that it will now be used to rid Lake Victoria of water hyacinth.

''Both the water harvester and the two load truck cost Sh101 million. The Lorries cost Sh10 million each,'' said Kiptoo.

The PS disclosed that the Ministry of Environment felt that managing water hyacinth could best be done by LBDA because it covers more than 18 counties most lying in the Lake Victoria basin.

"We identified Lake Victoria as an important resource and the utilization of the natural resources have been hampered by the invasive weed, identified in the country in the 1990s," he said.

The two lorries and equipment were handed over to the Regional and Northern Corridor Development PS Margaret Mwakima.

Mwakima handed over equipment to the LBDA MD Raymond Omollo and chairman Odoyo Owidi in a ceremony marked by the official signing and transfer of asset management books at the Kisumu port.

The PSs, Omollo, and Odoyo tested the harvester to see if it was working and indicated that its mechanical problem had been fixed.

"The contractual issues were resolved between the ministry and supplier and the Attorney General, Ministry of Finance who all went through this process," Kiptoo said.

Kiptoo said the government will embark on a preventive approach to curb pollution by managing the water catchment and ensuring less pollution in the lake.

The second measure will involve using biological weed control as a long term measure to control and mitigate its spread. The harvester either dredges or acts as a vegetation shredder or both.

Water Hycinth Lake Victoria PS Chris Kiptoo
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