Sh76m harvester to aid seven counties in war on hyacinth

The national government has bought a Sh76 million water hyacinth harvester in a fresh attempt to tame the weed that has disrupted fishing and transport services on Lake Victoria.

The machine, shipped from Italy, has arrived at Mombasa port and was due to be transported to Kisumu.

Ministry of Environment and the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme (LVEMP) officials expressed hope that seven counties bordering the lake  would benefit from the new World Bank-funded project.

“We are launching a fresh assault on the weed. We want to enjoin the seven counties around the lake in this project and we are about to sign memorandum of understanding with them,” said Julius Kandie, senior director of administration in the ministry when he met Homa Bay governor Cyprian Awiti on Thursday.

Mr Kandie said the harvester would be stationed at the Kisumu port from where it would used to clear weed-infested beaches along the lake’s expansive shoreline daily between Busia and Migori counties.

The official said the project would employ eight coxswains and train up to 100 people to manage it.

The government has made several attempts to control hyacinth with little success. Scientists attribute the continued invasion to massive pollution from industrial and urban runoff.

Mr Kandie said the environment programme has spent S0.6 billion on various projects.  Homa Bay, Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Kisii, Kericho and Bomet are benefiting from the projects.

Mr Kandie said on Thursday the project had World Bank to build to sewerage treatment ponds in Homa Bay.

Homa Bay governor asked the officials to also consider funding a sewer connection in Kendu  Bay and other major townships in the county.

Mr Awiti said the county would launch a campaign to ensure all households and businesses were connected to the sewer line to help improve sanitation in Homa Bay town.

He said county would support community projects funded by the programme to ensure their sustainability.

“I am happy to note that one of the groups  being supported by LVEMP II  is  about  to start a water bottling business. This is very encouraging,” said  Mr Awiti.