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Kenya on the spot over idle $0.8m weed machine

The East African Legislative Assembly has directed the executive director of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Dr Ally Said Matano, to engage the Kenyan government over an $810,000 water hyacinth harvester lying idle at the Homa Bay Pier in the west of the country, and report back on the issue.

Kenya bought the harvester in 2016 for a clean-up campaign of the lake but it has never been used.

The LVBC management reported to the Eala Committee on Accounts that the weed harvester was procured under a loan from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s lending wing.

“The challenges regarding its underutilisation were raised by relevant authorities in Kenya and are being addressed at that level,” the report says.

The report of the Eala Committee on Accounts, which the House adapted recently in Arusha says: “The EAC Audit Commission observed that the machine was non-functional when the team visited the Homa Bay Pier on November 12, 2018, bringing the years of redundancy to three.”

The report says the state of the machine, which can harvest up to 10 acres of the weed a day implies that the second phase of the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project did not achieve value for money, as the machine has not served the purpose.

Eala has also asked the Council of Ministers to urgently address the effects of the aquatic weed.

Water hyacinth, an invasive plant species from South Africa, has infested the lake, choking fishing and landing sites, and at one time even the port of Kisumu.

It says the water hyacinth continues to affect the aquatic life and the environment of the lake and that the EAC is at a risk of losing funding from development partners like the World Bank since some of its resources are not being utilised effectively.

“The weed has interrupted the transportation and local subsistence fishing, blocking access to the beaches,” the report reads, adding, there has been a general rise in diseases, as the weed creates conducive breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects, leading to an increased incidence of skin rash, cough, malaria, encephalitis, gastrointestinal disorders and bilharzia.

By The Eastafrica

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