• The Kegati project is meant to fix the shortage problem once it's completed
• Ongwae says water is life, hence his administration will not tolerate individuals who ruin supply
Governor James Ongwae yesterday said his 90-day order that residents fell eucalyptus trees planted in water catchment areas is bearing fruit.
He said since the exercise started, water levels in rivers Nyakomisaro, Nyanchwa and Riana have begun to rise. The rivers were almost drying up. He issued the order two months ago after it was discovered that water levels in rivers passing through Kisii town had reduced drastically.
Bluegum trees consume huge volumes of water in a day, thus significantly reducing supply. They have been blamed for water scarcity. They also kill off surrounding plant life through a chemical they releases into the soil. Ongwae told owners to cut them down or the county would do it.
He said the order was not ill-intended. It was meant to save residents from acute water shortage so they can sustain supply for domestic and other purposes, he sought to assure the owners.
The county government is committed to ensuring residents get clean piped water. The Kegati project is meant to fix the shortage problem once it's completed.
"The three rivers, which are important, had almost begun to dry because the trees consume thousands of litres per day,” the county chief told the Star by phone.
He said water is life, hence his administration will not tolerate individuals who are out to endanger lives. "I'm telling a few of tree owners who have since defied the order that my administration is going to use its own machinery to fell the trees,” Ongwae said.
The decision was made after wide consultation with elected leaders. Ongwae also demanded that all illegal structures in wetlands be demolished.
He urged residents to plant water-friendly trees such as bamboo, which has a wide market because it is used to make expensive products.
"I urge residents to replace the trees with bamboo because the same is not only water-friendly but can also be used to produce good furniture,” he said.
(Edited by F'Orieny)