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Locals warned against using polluted Athi water

By Victor Nzuma | May 3rd 2016

People living along River Athi were yesterday warned against using its water which has turned green due to pollution.

Area leaders, who included Yatta MP Francis Mwangangi and Machakos Minority Leader Thomas Kasoa, said the water was not fit for human consumption and would be dangerously harmful for any user due to the sewage and industrial chemicals channelled into it.

The leaders said those still living on the river islands were in danger of drowning. Residents have been evacuated by choppers in the past after the river flooded following heavy rainfall.

Speaking separately, the leaders said dead fish were seen floating in the river, an indication the water was lethally polluted.

Mr Mwangangi said a majority of his constituents depended on the river water that was now unfit for human consumption.

"It is high time the national government in collaboration with the county solved this problem once and for all to cushion residents from the danger of consuming unhealthy water," the lawmaker said.

Mr Kasoa gave the Nairobi and Kiambu county governments 21 days to explain why they were directing their waste into the river failure to which he would sue them.

He said people living along the river from Matungulu and Mwalam sub-counties all the way to parts of Makueni County depended on the river water for domestic use.

Kasoa said this as he toured the river that cuts across his Mbiuni Kathama ward where residents woke up to the sight of green water that had a choking smell.

The politician vowed to use everything at his disposal, including the courts to tackle the matter in a bid to seek justice for the affected families.

"Many of my people have fallen sick after using the water. This has been happening year-in-year-out yet no attention is drawn against the vice," said Mwangangi.

He said boreholes that were dug in the area using the Constituency Development Fund were not enough to eradicate water shortage in the area.

Mwangangi urged leaders in the affected areas to team up and fight for the welfare of the river that has been the only source of water for a majority of locals.

He accused the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the National Environmental Management Authority of doing little or nothing to address the matter.

"How can such Government institutions keep quiet and do nothing while hundreds of thousands of citizens are being subjected to unhealthy conditions?" he asked.

The MP, however, thanked the national government for funding the multi-billion-shilling Yatta Water Canal and the proposed Yatta Dam that would drastically reduce water shortage in the area.

He also commended the national government for evacuating families that were trapped on some islands along the river during the long rains last year.

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