The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has arrested five men in Homa Bay County for degrading the environment through unregulated sand harvesting.
Three of the suspects were arrested at Miti Mbili Beach and Osodo Village in Rachuonyo North Sub County on Friday and taken to Kendu Bay Police Station.
The other two suspects were arrested at Luore Beach in Suba North Sub County before being detained at Mbita Police Station.
The suspects include a land owner, sand harvester and three drivers who were transporting sand in different lorries.
Speaking to KNA in his office Friday, Homa Bay County Director of NEMA, John Maniafu said the suspects will be charged in court once investigations were complete.
“We have sensitized the residents about hazards of unsustainable sand harvesting but they don’t want to comply with our regulations. We have started this operation to ensure punitive legal measures are taken against those who are defiant,” he said.
The Director further expressed concern over serious environmental degradation that had left many villages with dangerous galleys.
Muniafu said investigations conducted by the NEMA revealed that the residents have harvested sand deeply below the water level of Lake Victoria.
This has led to spillage of water from the lake, causing floods in the area especially at Osodo Village.
The haphazard sand harvesting has also caused destruction of water distribution pipes, roads and electricity poles in the area.
“At Miti Mbili Beach for instance, the residents have harvested sand and interfered with access to Rachuonyo G.K. Prison by digging the road,” Maniafu added.
At the same time, Maniafu said that this war will be more intensified in the coming days to ensure our natural resources are used in a sustainable manner, adding that sand harvesting is not an illegal activity but only that it should be exploited in manner that is sustainable and can help restore our resources.
He urged members of the public to work closely with the forest departments and agriculture to ensure that proper decommissioning is done after harvesting of sand.
“We can plant trees, bananas and other crops or put fish ponds in those areas to restore degraded areas even as we practice sand harvesting,” he said.
Maniafu, accompanied by the County Environment Officer (CEO), Ruben Ouma also warned citizens found destroying public utilities like roads, electricity poles that the law will finally catch up with them.
He further urged youths to seek alternative sources of income instead of sand harvesting.
“Sand will soon be depleted hence youth in the areas should resort to alternative economic activities. It is also wrong to destroy other amenities like roads because this interferes with other aspects of life,” Maniafu added.
By Martin Shikuku/Davis Langat