Auditor’s report queries state of quarries

Thursday, October 8th, 2020 00:00 |
Esther Wanjiku, 89, crushes ballast at Thika’s BAT quarry. Photo/PD/MATHEW NDUNG’U

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

The Auditor-General has faulted the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) for failing to control quarry activities in the country.

 In a report released yesterday, Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu said that quarries are generally not adequately restored or rehabilitated after depletion of materials, posing a threat to people and animals. 

The performance audit report, which focused on land conservation and restoration—the afterlife of quarries in Kenya—raised serious concerns over proliferation of unregulated quarry activities in the country.

According to the report, quarry activities have increased tenfold in the last couple of years a move that has been spurred by a fast rise in real estate and construction industry, pushing mining and quarry to second place in terms of growth.

The report further finds that mining and quarry sector grew by 14.7 per cent as per the 2016 economic survey. 

“At the base of this, is the quarry industry,” the report says.  However, the report raised concern over lack of rehabilitation, restoration, illegal, abandoned quarries and failure to adhere to land conservation and management measures outlined by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license.

Noting that failure to ensure that the sector is properly regulated poses environmental problems to communities living within the quarries.

The report adds that it also threatens the overall social economic sustainability of the sector.

“Uncontrolled quarrying activities have caused a significant negative impact on the environment,” the report by the Auditor General says.

The report particularly assessed quarry activities in eleven counties: Kakamega, Kisumu, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Embu, Machakos, Nyeri, Isiolo, Kajiado, Nakuru and Nairobi.

The report further shows that only Nyeri, Embu and Machakos have a list of all quarries in their jurisdiction.

Actual status

On the other hand, a report showing status of quarry activities was not availed to the Auditor General by the county governments of Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Voi and Kajiado, making it difficult to ascertain the actual status.

But according to the available data, Kakamega, Nyeri, Embu, Machakos and Kilifi have a combined 161 quarry areas out of which 55 are not licensed.

It attributed the current state of affairs to gaps in quarry licensing process and lack of monitoring.

The report also says that out of the eleven counties assessed by the office of the auditor general, only one had a substantive County Executive Committee (CEC) member for Environment, therefore pushing environmental issues to the periphery. 

Noting that CECs rarely hold stakeholder consultative forums to discuss environmental matters in their counties, the report says that 39 out of 47 environment CECs had been gazetted at the time of compiling the report. 

“County governments should fast-track the gazettement of CECs to coordinate effective environmental issues…NEMA should ensure compliance and strict adherence to EIA license conditions,” it adds. 

NEMA was also tasked to compile and keep an inventory of all quarries in the country for effective monitoring and management. 

The report further proposed establishment of Restoration Fund where quarry owners contribute a particular amount of money to be used in restoration.

“This may deter proliferation of unregulated quarries which contributes to land degradation,” she says, adding: “Nema should ensure equitable distribution of staff in all counties so that they can effectively discharge their duties,” the report said.

More on News