KNA The Country’s environmental watch-dog body has come under criticism for its failure to live up to its task.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has also been described as a den of corrupt officials out to make quick monies at the expense of lives of Kenyans.
During a meeting of environmental experts held today at a hotel in Isebania border town, Kuria West Sub County of Migori County, it emerged that some of the institution’s officials were allegedly working in cahoots with unscrupulous environmental impact assessors and investors to allow constructions of very dangerous structures in wrong places.
In Migori County for instance, NEMA has failed to control garages, car-wash outlets and gold leaching firms from discharging dangerous chemicals and raw waste materials into local rivers, in so doing risking the lives of wananchi and aquatic life in the rivers.
“We are concerned with the manner this institution has been going about its mandates and we want the State to take up urgent measures to correct the anomalies in its management,” remarked Mr. Francis Gibai, the Chief Executive Officer of Kuria Data bank, a body dealing with environmental issues in Kuria region.
He charged that Rivers like Nyangoto and Migori were facing the risks of complete destruction following uncontrolled sand harvesting and discharge of raw waste and chemicals into them by private firms involved in gold business and, from nearby tobacco farms.
Mr. Boniface Okello, an environmentalist working with a private firm, claimed that NEMA had failed to deal with rogue environmental impact assessors whose works have always triggered many complaints about environmental impact assessment in the country.
Assessors who are registered members of NEMA are required to identify the negative and positive impacts of development activities or projects and examine how these can affect people, their property and environment.
The assessments are usually carried out in the initial stages of projects and are the basis on which the concerned organizations apply for trading, commercial or development permits.
However, participants at the one-day forum said that there were very many constructions coming up on the banks of River Migori and others within the county which were a threat to the lives of river water users and the environment in general.
“Just visit Migori town and you will be surprised with the big structures being put up very close to the river because some of the officials of NEMA have colluded with the E.I. assessors and investors to come with illegal reports clearing their construction,” said Mr. Marcus Mwita, a non-expert at the forum.
NEMA was formed in 2005 with the sole purpose of regulating environmental impact assessors, whether corporate or individual.
It was hoped that the organization would scrutinize the operations of the experts and bring sanity into the chaotic work of the assessors, which saw the experts exploit their clients because there was no institute to monitor and regulate them.
The experts put Migori County and the country in general on notice that natural resources were being depleted and degraded quickly, a situation that drive the poor people to suffer most in the provision of food and energy resources.
The forum gave the example of tobacco firming within Migori County which helps deplete forests through the wanton harvest of trees to be used in curing the green tobacco-leaf in kilns.
Apart from that, the strong pesticides and chemicals used in growing tobacco leaf have destroyed the firm fertility over the years and their percolation into rivers have posed high health risks to both human and aquatic life.