PENDING HEARING

Order blocking Kisumu, Nyanza Golf Club from wetland extended

Was issued last year after lobby sued on grounds of lack of public participation

In Summary

• County plans to build a waterfront at the site to boost hospitality industry

• Dredging project to remove water hyacinth, however, continues

Magnum Environmental Network Michael Nyanguti
'DEGRADATION OF LAKE VICTORIA': Magnum Environmental Network Michael Nyanguti
Image: FAITH MATETE

A Kericho court has extended orders stopping Kisumu county and Nyanza Golf Club from interfering with a wetland around the mouth of River Kisat until a case against them is concluded.

The orders, which were issued last year on May 18 by Judge B Olao, have been extended to June 11 when the application will be heard at the Kisumu Environment Court.

Even with the order, however, the court also ruled that the project that relates to the removal of the water hyacinth, dredging and construction of the port should proceed.

The county plans to build a waterfront at the site to boost tourism. 

A lobby accused the two of reclaiming the wetland without public participation.

Magnum Environmental Network asked the court to permanently restrain them from engaging in any activity that is harmful to the riparian land around Lake Victoria. 

Magnum chairman Michael Nyanguti said wetland reclamation is untenable in law without wide consultations with players such as the National Environmental Management Authority and the Water Resource Authority.

“An environmental impact assessment has not been carried out and no licence has been issued by Nema and the National Construction Authority as required by law for a project of this magnitude," he said.  

Kericho Environment and Land Court justice M Onyango on May 2 gave the orders after hearing both the counsel for the respondents(county government and golf club) and petitioner (in person).

The respondents were opposed to the extension of the interim orders issued last year. 

Justice Onyango noted that the petitioner had put a spirited fight on why the said orders ought to be extended, particularly those touching on the wetland around River Kisat.

“The petitioner clarified that he has no objection to the development around the port and the removal of the water hyacinth," Onyango said.  

He added, “With regards to the wetlands, he has demonstrated that the developments started without the necessary license from Nema and the WRA. He alluded to the absence of public participation which is a key step in a development of this nature.”

Onyango said he was inclined to allow the extension of the interim orders in the interest of justice and to allow the court to consider all the material placed before it. 

“That the temporary injunction against the 2nd respondent(golf club) relating to activities aimed at reclaiming, murraming or dumping any substance, or any activity that is likely to degrade the mouth of River Kisat, extended to June 11th."

Magnum wants the respondents directed to restore the wetland to its original status. He also wants them to vacate and cease any activity that may be harmful to the ecosystem.

He says the respondents had violated the Constitution by announcing that they had agreed to develop the area and reclaiming the wetland without due process. 

 The respondents' action, if allowed to continue, will set a bad precedent that will expose wetlands to total destruction, Nyanguti argues. 

He says the wetland removes heavy metal substances from the sewerage and municipal runoff water and "the reclamation will eliminate this function, thus exposing residents and fish to heavy metal contamination and health consequences".

“The residents of Kisumu City will be exposed to the danger of sewerage waste being drifted by water current to the Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company intake point at Hippo Point, with resultant contamination and poor quality drinking water."

The fish stock will dimish and fishermen will lose their livelihoods, Nyanguti said.

(Edited by R.Wamochie)