Weed harvester already in Kisumu, to be launched by state soon
Homa Bay fishermen have asked Governor Cyprian Awiti to liaise with the national government to remove water hyacinth from beaches.
The Ministry of Environment through the Lake Victoria Development Authority is expected to start using a hyacinth harvester to clear the weed from the lake.
The authority received the machine from the Lake Victoria Environmental Programme. The machine has not been put into use since 2015 when the national government bought it from Italy.
The multi-million water hyacinth harvester was docked in Kisumu.
It is to be used to mechanically remove at least 150 tones of the weeds daily from Lake Victoria.
On Saturday, Homa Bay fishermen asked Awiti to lobby for the machine to be brought to the county as soon as possible.
Through Homa Bay County Beach Management Units chairman Edward Oremo, the fishermen said the weeds have returned and impeded fishing operations across many beaches.
They said no fishing activities are being undertaken in beaches within Karachuonyo constituency because of the hyacinth invasion.
Oremo said hundreds of fishermen have been forced to abandon the fishing activities and look for alternative livelihoods.
“Fishermen operating from beaches in Karachuonyo lose Sh300,000 daily due to the weed. Boats and several fishing gears are trapped in the hyacinth,” Oremo said.
He was speaking after a meeting of beach officials in Kendu Bay town. Oremo said beaches such as Chuowe, K’Otieno, Miti Mbili, Kendu Bay, Siala, Obaria, Alum and Seka among others have been inaccessible for the last two weeks.
Some beaches in Homa Bay Town, Rangwe and Suba North constituencies are also not accessible.
“We’re appealing to Governor Awiti to ensure Homa Bay fishermen are helped to overcome this disaster. The weeds are spreading very fast in the lake more so with waves,” Oremo said.
Homa Bay has the largest Lake Victoria water cover with more than 60 per cent of the Kenyan share of the lake in the county.
The county also produces more fish since it has 134 active and operating beaches.
On Saturday, Oremo expressed fears that water transport may soon be affected should the government fail to provide a solution.
“Let’s not wait and respond only after seeing people get trapped and killed in the hyacinth. It’s high time we addressed the problems caused by the weeds,” he said.
Environment Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo and Northern Corridor Development counterpart Margaret Mwakima are expected to preside over the handover of the harvester to LBDA before it starts clearing the hyacinth.
Edited by P.O