Water hyacinth in Lake Victoria continues to threaten the existence of Africa’s largest freshwater five years after the government spent Ksh80 million to acquire a harvester that later stalled.
The machine was acquired in 2015 by the ministry through phase two of Lake Victoria Environmental Project jointly funded by the Government and the World Bank.
Over the years the weed has rapidly grown to cover over 4000 hectares after the machine broke down before completing the work. The delays in fixing the mechanical problem were linked to cost of spare parts.
According to Chris Aura, the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Director, the hyacinth has blocked several beaches further paralysing fishing, marine transport and water sports.
In a bid to correct the mess, the government through the new Environmental Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said it would revive the weed clearance project.
Speaking on Saturday in Kisumu, the PS stated that the government would buy missing spare parts for the rusting machine.
The spare parts are estimated to cost at least Ksh3 million.
“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,” the PS said during the launch of a clean-up campaign dubbed Lake Victoria Basin Integrated Water Resources Management Programme (LVB-IWRMP).
Last year, Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Integration and Northern Corridor Development visited the area and faulted the government for the delays in fixing “a small problem”.
The clean-up campaign is meant to save the world’s second-largest freshwater lake from environmental hazards.
East African Community (EAC) Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko, who also spoke at the event, said the programme entails the construction of sewer and water treatment facilities at the source before being released into the lake.
“We want to make sure that the water entering the lake has no industrial waste ad sewage. That is why we will construct treatment plants at the source, said Mfumukeko.
The initiative is expected to cost at least 31.9 million Euros (Ksh3.5 billion) including a Ksh2 billion grant from Germany.
“We also have 8.9 million (about Ksh8 billion) in another grant from the European Union and another 3 million Euros (about Ksh3 billion) from the benefitting EAC Partner States, ” he added.
Already, EAC has threatened to revoke licences of companies discharging raw sewage into the lake.