Farmers and locals who depend on the Thika River for survival have raised concern over its heavy pollution by local industries, with several aquatic animals allegedly dying from the contamination in the last few days.
During a visit to the river on Wednesday, a dead hippo and hundreds of lifeless fish and frogs lay on its banks, with residents attributing it to toxic effluents from the many industries in the town.
Its waters had turned red, with some parts green, a result of heavy pollution, as tunnels flowing from the industries directed towards the river are prominent.
Francis Kanyuku a local farmer said they are afraid of using the water in fear of contracting diseases.
He said they once could use the water for irrigation, but over the years, it had become difficult to make use of the waters.
“You water your crops and they dry within days. The toxic levels of this water is high. In some areas downstream, residents use it for drinking as well as other household chores. This has put us into the risk of contracting water borne diseases like diarrhea, typhoid and cholera and sometimes terminal ailments like cancer as we use this water for cooking and drinking,” he said.
In May, the National Water Management Authority (NWMA) officials led by their Chairman, Joe Mutambu arrested two Chinese nationals whose factories were emitting toxic effluents into the river.
Mutambu warned that crackdown on those found directing industrial wastes into rivers will continue.
David Irungu another farmer said since the industries began emitting the effluents into the river, they have been developing funny and undetectable diseases.
Several residents have developed unknown skin rashes, and always frequent the hospital to seek treatment from diseases that they say have failed to heal.
“If a hippo can die from living in this polluted water, what would happen to us human beings who use drink it? The government has been here severally but they only do lip talk,” he said.
To some residents, it was feast time as they attempted to share pieces of the hippo meat, but the celebration was short-lived as police officers blocked them, cautioning that the meat was unsafe for consumption.
By Veronicah Mueni/Muoki Charles