Plans to rid Lake Victoria of the water Hyacinth have moved notch higher following the docking of a 4000 ton dredging vessel expected to decimate and haul the weed out of the lake starting Friday.
And none other the African Union High Representative for Infrastructural Development in Africa Raila Amolo Odinga accompanied by county and national government officials together with representatives of Ugandan government led the initial onslaught on the devastating weed on Friday.
The 70-meter long gigantic vessel is on two-fold mission, to eradicate the lake of the hyacinth as well as create depth required to support the landing of sizeable vessels around the local piers.
The arrival of the vessel in Kenya has been attributed to successful talks between the Lake Region Economic Block following and a maritime corporation, Mangoe Tree Group that started a couple of months ago.
Kisumu deputy governor Dr. Mathews Owili expressed optimism that the vessel will play a key role in transforming the fortunes of the lake region that has been on the down spiral with the advent of water hyacinth in Lake Victoria in the early 90’s.
Dr. Owili spoke after leading a team of high profile officials from county, state agencies and the national government in welcoming the vessel at the docking pier in Kisumu.
The coming of the ship also follows in tandem with Kisumu governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o ‘s Jamhuri Day’s promise of a paradigm shift in the management of the blue economy in the region that singled out ridding the lake of Hyacinth a top priority beginning this year.
Putting pen to paper, Nyong’o kicked off the war on hyacinth by instituting a ban on washing of cars along the shores of the Lake and other water bodies in a move to cut on the polluting agents fueling the thrift of the weed in the lake.
“We can’t sit by as the blue economy we’ve survived on for decades gets destroyed by our own foolish industrial and farming activities,” the governor declared.
Experts estimate that the fast-sprouting and spreading weed currently covers about 17, 000 ha of the lake, thereby spelling doom to the sectors whose lifeline are predicated on the blue economy to the detriment of the locals.
A fresh breath of life back to the major sectors ranging from maritime transport, tourism fishing and the resurgence of related cottage industries are but some of the rapid and massive economic boons anticipated once the lake is freed from the choking weed.
According the Head of Lake ports and Inland Ways at the Kenya Ports Authority, Engineer Javan Wanga, the dredger is expected to clear a stretch of 61.3 kilometers starting from the pier in Kisumu and going all the way to Mbita.
The dredger is also set to enhance the depth to 1.6 square meters around the Kisumu pier and further upgrade the Mbita pier to six meters deeper and 80 meters wide.
The expansion plan, besides the upgrades, will also see the setting of a second port in Kisumu accompanied with the development of supporting infrastructure to follow suit.
Besides Lreb and KPA, the lake trans-formative agenda has also roped-in other key implementing state agencies including Kenya Railways, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Maritime Authority, National Management Authority and the County government of Kisumu.
By Milton Onyango