Sh80m machine rusts away as lake weed marches on

A water hyacinth machine currently packed at Kisumu inland depot. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The government has promised to revive the water hyacinth harvester that has been lying idle since it was bought five years ago.

The Sh80 million machine was bought by the Ministry of Environment to contain the spread of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria, but it quickly broke down.

The machine was purchased in 2015 through the Lake Victoria Environmental Project, jointly funded by the government and the World Bank. 

It was envisaged to clear the weed to make the lake easily navigable by harvesting 150 tonnes of hyacinth a day, translating to seven hectares per day.

SEE ALSO: Milk battles escalate amid snag over imports, pricing

According to Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute Director Chris Aura, the weed covers about 4,000 hectares of the lake, blocking several beaches and paralysing marine transport, fishing and water sports.

Last year, a parliamentary select committee on regional integration accused the Environment ministry of doing little to address the hyacinth invasion.

The legislators, led by Bondo MP Gedion Ochanda, questioned the rationale of the machine lying idle despite its immense economic potential.

For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.  

Over the weekend, new Environment Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo promised that the government would buy missing spare parts for the machine estimated to cost Sh3 million to revive it.

"We are aware that the machine had some mechanical problems but I promise to have it fixed and put it to its intended use soon," said Dr Kiptoo.

SEE ALSO: New tax for milk imports from neighbouring countries

The PS spoke in Kisumu during the launch of a clean-up campaign dubbed Lake Victoria Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Programme,(LVB-IWRMP) on Saturday.

East African Community (EAC) Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko said the lake clean-up campaign entails construction of sewer and waste water treatment facilities at the source; before the waste is released into the lake.

"We want to make sure the water entering the lake has no industrial waste and sewage. That is why we will construct treatment plants at the source," said Mfumukeko

The project currently has a budget of 31.9 million Euros (about Sh3 billion) including a 20 million Euro (about Sh2 billion) grant from Germany.

"We also have 8.9 million Euros (about Sh8 billion) in another grant from the European Union and another 3 million Euros (about Sh3 billion) from the benefiting EAC Partner States" he said

SEE ALSO: 44 years and still counting: Ex-EAC workers in futile chase for pension

The project will be implemented at the regional level through the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) and at the national level by designated national project executing agencies in the EAC partner States under LVBC

New EAC PS Kevit Desai, who attended the launch, vowed to revoke licences of companies discharging untreated waste into the lake.

The clean-up campaign has two components. The first component focuses on strengthening the capacity of LVBC for cross-boundary integrated water resources management.

The second component targets wastewater discharges into pollution hot spots of Lake Victoria from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.

The project is expected to have a significant regional impact on the water quality within the Lake Victoria Basin.

SEE ALSO: MKU ranked top medical schools as public universities fail to comply

Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

Get the latest summary of news in your email every morning. Subscribe below

* indicates required
East African CommunityLake Victoria Environmental Project