Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua has given a one-month ultimatum to all industries situated in Mavoko, Machakos County which release effluent into river Athi to stop doing so by December 1 or be shutdown.
Governor Mutua said contamination of the river, which acts as the main source of water for thousands of residents in the lower eastern region for both domestic and irrigation use, is a health hazard and vowed to close the factories.
Speaking at Wote on Monday during a consultative meeting on the construction of Thwake Multipurpose Dam at the confluence of rivers Thwake and Athi in Makueni and Kitui counties, the governor also promised to hold talks with his counterparts in Nairobi and Kiambu counties to conduct a crackdown on similar firms releasing waste into the Nairobi river which is a main tributary of Athi river.
‘‘I will consult with Governors Mike Sonko(Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) to have such industries closed if they don’t comply with proper management of waste even if it means seeking legal re-dress”,said Dr. Mutua.
The governor called for concerted efforts from stakeholders to clean Athi river and its tributaries before works on Thwake dam begins.
“Athi river is one of the main sources of Thwake dam and which will be the source of water for the three counties. It should be cleaned to get rid of any harmful chemicals that would make the water unfit for human consumption” added Dr. Mutua.
Speaking at the same forum, Makueni Governor Professor Kivutha Kibwana echoed Dr.Mutua’s sentiments and said efforts initiated by former Environment Minister the late John Michuki to clean Nairobi river should be revived.
‘‘Michuki tried cleaning Nairobi river and it worked, the same should be revived for the river and others to free them from continued pollution.” said Professor Kibwana.
On Thwake multipurpose dam, the two governors called on the government to fast-track the compensation of the remaining 186 residents whose land is set to be used for the project.
‘‘We urge the Treasury to release the money so that the affected residents can look for an alternative land and settle before real works begin, ‘noted Governor Kibwana.
The two governors proposed that 50 percent of the contracts and jobs allocated for Kenyans to be given out to locals of the three counties.
‘‘This is a big project which should impact economically on the residents of Ukambani and priority should be given to them during the construction, ’said Governor Mutua.
Governor Kibwana assured the national government of support and political good will from the local leadership saying no leader should attempt to sabotage or derail the project.
‘‘We have had projects delay unduly or fail to come to fruition due to poor leadership but that should not be the case with this project”,added the Makueni governor.
Approximately 1.3 million people from the Lower Eastern Region are expected to benefit from the dam which will also be the main a source of water for the proposed Konza Technocity.
Preliminary works for the project have already started after the government signed a deal last year with the contractor, China Gezhouba Group.