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Political goodwill likely to make Nairobi River great again

Several attempts to clean the river in the past flopped

In Summary

• Committee secretary John Chumo said on on Sunday that the good will is likely to change the fortunes of the heavily polluted river.

• The section of the river stretching between the National Museums of Kenya bridge and the Globe roundabout is now clean.

Hired youths clean a section of the Nairobi River.
Hired youths clean a section of the Nairobi River.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The National Environment Complaints Committee has lauded the political goodwill  in cleaning the Nairobi River.

Committee secretary John Chumo said on on Sunday that the good will is likely to change the fortunes of the heavily polluted river.

"So far, some sections of the river are clean again, showing that it can be done,"Chumo said on the phone.

The section of the river stretching between the National Museums of Kenya bridge and the Globe roundabout is now clean.

During the World Environment Day on June 5, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government was fully committed to the conservation agenda.

The day is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment.

Uhuru listed a number of ongoing initiatives, among them the restoration of Michuki Park, the expansion of Nairobi National Park and the reclamation of grabbed forest land.

He said the government is working to expand green areas across the country.

Chumo said the commitment by the government will go along way in ensuring the success of the Nairobi River clean up.

NECC's mandate is to investigate environmental mismanagement and degradation in Kenya. It also undertakes public interest litigation on behalf of citizens on environmental matters.

Chumo said his committee has investigated several culprits polluting the river before handing its report to Nema.

"There are structures on riparian land and the culprits have been forwarded to Nema for enforcement," he said.

Chumo said factories and slaughterhouses are among the culprits. He said the clean up must be scaled up to the 14 falls near Kilimambogo.

A team tasked with cleaning up the will this week start demolishing illegal structures on riparian area.

Nema acting director general Mamo Mamo on Thursday said a number toilets and flats were directing effluent into the water source.

“We will be demolishing some of these structures on Monday,” Mamo said.

He said owners who are found culpable will be arrested and prosecuted.

Mamo said his team had also established that there were sewer lines belonging to Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company that had been blocked, rendering them dysfunctional.

On Thursday, the team was mapping out polluters between the International Livestock Research Institute and Riruta bridge.

Mamo said the blocked sewer lines had been brought to the attention of the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company..

Mamo said the authority was working with the Water Resources Authority to identify the riparian areas and bulldozers from Nairobi Metropolitan Services will be used to demolish the illegal structures.

The war on polluters follows a directive given to the authority by Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on July 20.

"We are starting a 90-day crackdown today. Nema will be spearheading the crackdown from here [Michuki Memorial Park] all the way up to the source of the river at Ondiri swamp. We will also be dealing with Nairobi River tributaries,” Tobiko said during a cleanup at Michuki Memorial Park.

The Nairobi River traverses the memorial park named after the late Cabinet minister John Michuki.