MBITA CAUSE-WAY MUST BE DEMOLISHED, SAYS NEMA

Posted on October 16, 2012

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DEMOLISH THE MBITA CAUSE-WAY, NEMA ORDERS
(Nairobi, Kenya) — (October 16, 2012)
Redesign appropriate and sustainable link between mainland Mbita and Rusinga Island,The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has ordered. NEMA also wants the ministry of Roads to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to commencement of construction works for the sustainable link and demolition of the Mbita causeway.

The Mbita causeway was constructed in the early 1980’s to link Rusinga Island to the mainland to facilitate the transport of people, goods and services to Island. The mode of construction was through rock and earth filling.
NEMA Ag. Director of Compliance & Enforcement Zephania Ouma has said the causeway has permanently blocked a secondary connection between Rusinga channel and the off shore waters of Lake Victoria. Said he,” the dimension of the channel blocked was 250 meters in length and over 10 meters in depth. “Our stand as NEMA is complete demolition of the Causeway through a trade-off system where an environmentally acceptable alternative link is provided to sustain the socio-economic activities between the island and the mainland.” he said.
In the Environmental Restoration Order, NEMA says based on research conducted in the area to ascertain the exchange dynamics between North Eastern off waters of Lake Victoria and Winam Gulf, a significant association has been found between the causeway and the deteriorating water quality and adverse impacts on fish migration and breeding in the Winam Gulf. Ouma noted the cleansing capacity of the lake has been reduced significantly due to the lack of flushing and exchange of water between the two shores.
After intensive research conducted by Lake Victoria Environment Management Programme (LVEMP) and Kenya Marine & Fisheries Research Institute it was revealed the Causeway has resulted to poor water quality, blockage of fish migration and interference with breeding patterns.
According to the Restoration Order NEMA notes that sediments deposition and substantative effects on circulation patterns has led to deterioration of water quality in the near region of Mbita and Winam Gulf. This the Authority has identified as the key trigger to the proliferation of the water hyacinth in the Winam Gulf and the surrounding waters.
Ouma notes that it is evident that Limits of Acceptable Change (L.A.C) have been exceeded. “The extremes of environmental quality have been reached beyond which “mother nature” and the society would find further change/effects unacceptable,” Ouma said.
NEMA also wants the Roads ministry to adhere to principle of Trade offs (substitution) “Noting the current socio-economic gains of the Causeway, the redesign link should be constructed before the demolition of the Causeway,” the Acting director clarified.
The Authority further calls on the Roads ministry to allocate financial resources to incorporate the Restoration Order prescription for funding in the 2013/2014 financial year for implementation during the same year.
Any person/institution served with an Environmental Restoration Order shall, subject to the provisions of EMCA, 1999 comply with all the terms and conditions of the Order. Any person who fails, neglect or refuses to comply with an Environmental Restoration Order committees an offence under EMCA, 1999 (Section 143).
The Authority in exercise the powers under EMCA, 1999 is guided by the principal of good environmental management. The ministry of Roads has the right to appeal to the National Environment Tribunal against this order.

Ends/…….

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