Shs. 2.5 Billion to clean River Athi

The government will spend Shs.2.5 billion to help reclaim River Athi which is on the brink of drying up due to heavy industrial and domestic pollution.

Water Principal Secretary (PS), Prof. Fred Segor said his ministry is working in partnership with relevant donors to ensure the river which is a key water source for Machakos residents was salvaged from imminent extinction.

Segor who was speaking on Wednesday on the sidelines of an induction seminar for Water Sector Institutions Board Members at a hotel in Machakos said the national Treasury has already factored the money in its 2016/2017 financial budgetary allocation.

The government has realized that there was a lot of pollution of River Athi that is why we have sourced for funds to the tune of Shs.2.5 billion. We have approached donors to help get funds of undertaking this cleanup exercise which is quiet expensive, he said.

Already there is a technical team currently working on a 10 year plan to ensure this work is completed at cost expected to hit Shs.225 billion once the cleanup was over.

However, Segor said the ministry is yet to receive full funding from the national Treasury, but works on the vital water artery that serves hundreds of Kenyans residing along its course will commence as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the PS put industries on notice, saying the Water Resources Authority in collaboration with NEMA will prosecute anyone found churning out effluent into the endangered river.

Segor, who was officially opening the one day exercise which sought to operationalize the Water Act 2016, also said the government had completed drilling half of the 40 boreholes aimed at addressing persistent water shortages in Nairobi.

He said the ministry was currently awaiting the installation of vital equipment on sites to hasten the process of supplying city residents with water.

As at now, half of the boreholes out of 40 have been done. The other boreholes are expected to be completed within the next one month at a cost of Shs. 200million, he explained.

And to help mitigate drought in the dry northern part of the country, Segor said the government had already started pumping water from the Turkana underground lakes discovered in 2014.

He said the water was being supplied to Lodwar town residents before the same was extended to other parts of the northern region.

The Water Act 2016 envisions among other things the restructuring or creation of new water sector institutions through the Water Sector Reforms and Transition agenda.

A consultancy to develop a Water Sector Works Development Agencies is already being sought to help fast track the process that will also help decentralize majority of water supply services to county governments.

At the same time, investment in the water sector in Kenya rose from Sh2 billion during the 2003/2004 financial year to Shs.40 billion in 2017.

The government projects to achieve 80 per cent water coverage by 2020 and universal access by 2030 in line with vision 2030.

Source: Kenya News Agency