• The huge demand for gravel, stones and sand, coupled with the uncontrolled mining activities, had taken quarrying to a whole new level.
• County officers have been tasked with spearheading environmental education and public awareness of the importance of conservation and sanitation.
Quarry operations in hilly areas of Mandera county have been stopped henceforth.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba on Thursday said hillside quarrying degrades the environment and is disastrous.
“It is no longer tenable to continue in this same trajectory. Our beautiful hills are all gone and replaced by dangerous craters left behind by miners. I take this opportunity to ban quarrying on our hills with immediate effect. No hill should be touched for stone excavation," he said.
Roba spoke in Moi Stadium during Jamhuri Day celebrations. The huge demand for gravel, stones and sand, coupled with the uncontrolled mining activities, had taken quarrying to a whole new level that has been devastating to residents. Effects include pollution, land degradation, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, loss of underground water and destruction of water catchments areas.
Roba said he could not "just sit back and watch as a few individuals ruin the environment, which should be jealously protected". He ordered the county Environment executive to ensure mining only takes place in approved areas. Quarrying activities must also have comprehensive land rehabilitation plans.
"Miners who flout the rules will have their licences revoked. Going forward, I direct the Ministry of Environment to come up with proper stakeholder-driven policies and law-enforcement mechanisms for the same," he said.
Environmental issues must be fully incorporated in development efforts and policy-making, he added.
County officers have been tasked with spearheading environmental education and public awareness of the importance of conservation and sanitation. Thus far, they have distributed afforestation tools such as watering cans, hoes and wheelbarrows, acquired four skip loaders and designated 22 waste collection centres in Mandera Municipality.
"The Mandera government champions the protection of trees for social, economic and environmental benefits to our people. It is part of our commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goal six of clean water and sanitation for all by supporting and strengthening the participation of local communities in water and sanitation management," the county chief said.
As part of the investment in greening the largely arid region, the county has planted more than 60,000 tree seedlings and nurtured and maintained many more. "We are way ahead of counties that receive a lot of rainfall like Kisumu, Busia and Kisii in terms of forest cover," Roba said.
(Edited by F'Orieny)