Renewed efforts to clean Nairobi River launched

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko when he led his ministry and National Environment Management Authority officials in cleaning up the Nairobi River around the Michuki Memorial Park, yesterday. Photo/PD/Bernard Malonza

The government has kicked off another round of crackdown to seal all sources of pollution and discharge of untreated water; toxic and other wastes, including organic, to Nairobi River in renewed efforts to clean the city’s water basin.

Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko yesterday outlined the new action plan to be operationalised in 90 days during which no residential and commercial entities polluting the river will be spared.

Tobiko once again mandated the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to spearhead the effort  by an integrated multi-agency even after a similar programme collapsed under a related arrangement.

 “We are starting a 90-day crackdown today; NEMA will be spearheading the crackdown from here all the way up to the source of the river at Ondiri Swamp. We will also be dealing with the other tributaries to the Nairobi River.

“The crackdown on those who are polluting and discharging untreated water; untreated toxic waste will not only focus on residential establishments, but also factories and plants.

The crackdown is going to be sustained, aggressive and is going to be merciless,” Tobiko said interestingly with questions still unanswered on the assessment of the first phase of that exercise when so many companies were closed but are currently operating and not keen on sealing their sources of pollution to the river.

Major facelift

Reflecting on the progress, the CS said the government is this time keen to see all the water along the river course from the source down to the Athi River to be as clean as the current state of the stretch from the National Museums of Kenya bridge to Globe Roundabout.

The John Michuki Memorial Park, the benchmark for the Nairobi Regeneration Programme falls on that stretch, and is currently undergoing a major facelift.

 “We have seen life coming back; birds, crocodiles, snails, and now even fish can be seen swimming in this stretch,” he said.

Challenged to tell Kenyans how the programme would ensure the water in the river course will be clean for use, Tobiko said his ministry is working closely with various stakeholders to address sanitation challenges from the informal settlements.

“We are currently partnering with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) under General Mohamed Badi; the Ministries of Water and Housing, through a World Bank funded programme, to ensure that the sanitation challenges brought about by the informal settlements are addressed,” the CS stated.

He said the World Bank programme which is jointly being driven by the Housing and Water ministries will enable the government to do trunk and sewer lines along the Nairobi River course.

“One major and critical failure is that our sewer system and its whole infrastructure are in shambles.

Therefore through this integrated multi-agency approach, we will start a crackdown that has never been witnessed by anybody alongside the rehabilitation of the sewer infrastructure,” he added.

On the ongoing Michuki Park rehabilitation programme, Tobiko said the magnitude of the work was underestimated, especially the riverbank stabilisation that involved construction of gabions to take care of erosion.

“But working together with all the teams, NEMA; Kenya Forest Research Institute, Kenya Forest Service; the NMS and National Museums of Kenya, the works are almost ready.

So today we are doing final touches in preparation for the official opening by the President in the next few weeks.

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