Team to fight pollution in city rivers

By: MUCHEMI WACHIRA

Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu has formed a task force to find a solution to pollution of the Nairobi River Basin, which is posing a health risk to city residents.

The basin has been heavily polluted by the continued disposal of effluent into its watercourse. The problem has worsened with the onset of the El Nino rains.

The outcry over pollution of the basin compelled Prof Wakhungu to convene a meeting of different players in government early this month to address the issue.

The CS later formed a joint task force comprising different government agencies to seek a temporary solution to the pollution.

During the May to June rains, the river experienced much pollution that was blamed for the cholera outbreak that left several people in Nairobi dead.

The task force is co-ordinated by Urban River — a new department in the ministry, whose members are National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), City County of Nairobi, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Services, Water Resource Management Authority (Warma) and Athi Water Services Board.

“We are trying to see if we could raise money to first upgrade the sewer system, which cannot cope with the increasing population,” Urban River director Eric Agothi told the Nation in a telephone interview.

Mr Titus Simiyu, Nema’s Nairobi County director says the discharge of raw sewage in slums and continued breakdown of sewer system in most parts of the City was behind the heavy pollution in the Nairobi River Basin.

Slums like Kibera and Kawangware, Mr Simiyu observed, have no sewer lines, with a good number of residents lacking toilets.

Another problem has been the uncollected garbage dumped on river banks, he added.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION