The National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC) Monday began a one-week tour of the coastal region on a mission to address and resolve several issues touching on the environment and its impact on local populations.
The tour which kicked off at the Tavevo Water Company offices in Voi comes against the backdrop of complaints by locals on noise pollution, rampant and uncontrolled church developments in residential spaces without prerequisite approvals, environmental risks posed by a proposed asbestos site, establishment of Izera Ranch, and the unabated human activities at Chyulu Hill ranges and other water catchment areas.
The committee’s delegation led by its chair, Dr Justry Nyaberi, emphasised its commitment not only to listening to complaints from residents but also finding solutions that champion interest for humans and the environment in a manner that secures a future of prosperity for the current and future generations.
“Coming here is a show of commitment to not only listen but also find solutions that guarantee the prosperity of humans with environmental conservation at the center of our activities for secure current and future habitats,” said Dr Nyaberi.
He further said that investigations are already in motion to establish causes, identify best-fit solutions, and chart the way forward to address noise pollution, set guidelines for the exploitation and safe disposal of asbestos, and stop wanton human activities along and in water catchment areas.
On the rampant development of churches without adherence to NEMA and environmental guidelines, Dr Nyaberi said the committee and the government, in general, hold dear the freedom of worship and association but sounded a warning to culprits that the law will catch up with them if found violating local and national guidelines.
“The committee and the government supports the freedom of worship and association but that should not be taken advantage of to set up churches without adhering to NEMA and other related environmental guidelines and laws,” said Dr Nyaberi.
The committee also reiterated the call by President William Ruto on scaling up forest cover in the country and said it was in communication with the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) to research and develop tree varieties for Taita Taveta County in efforts to push back the tide of climate change.
Welcoming the input of NECC to matters of environment, County Executive Committee Member for Water, Sanitation, Climate Change, Environment, and Natural Resources, Grantone Mwandawiro, said the county’s administration is putting the best foot forward to address the problems and welcomed like-minded government and non-governmental stakeholders to help steer the devolved unit to safe, and sustainable ecosystems.
“We’re putting in efforts to address the issues raised by our people and we welcome like-minded stakeholders from all quarters to walk with us in creating safe and sustainable ecosystems,” said Mwandawiro.
By Arnold Linga Masila