Baringo governor Stanley Kiptis wants the government to review the Water Act to guard against wanton encroachment of water catchment areas.
Kiptis said the growing number of investors encroaching water catchments especially with the coming of devolved units of government was worrying.
“Nowadays, people are encroaching on water catchment areas putting up structures which end up destroying the natural habitat. It is sad that this is happening as environmentalists watch,” he said.
Governor Kiptis noted that the Water Quality Regulation Act of 2006 and Water Resource Management Rule of 2007 clearly stipulates that catchment areas are supposed to be protected but it was saddening that such policies were not adhered to.
The Baringo governor who spoke at Narasha area in Eldama Ravine Sub-Country said disasters like the one which struck a village in Solai in neighboring Nakuru County were as a result of negligence which shall be avoided in future if the water act is reviewed.
Kiptis condemned the Patel Dam disaster and accused government conservation bodies especially National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and WARMA for sleeping on their job saying such disaster would not have occurred if the agencies had enforced the water laws as stipulated.
“Now that it has happened and we don’t want such incident to recur elsewhere in Kenya, the environment officers manning Solai region should carry their own cross because the responsibility of preventing such an ugly incidence lies squarely on their shoulders,” he affirmed.
Governor Kiptis who was flanked by County Commissioner Henry Wafula said he was happy that conservation of water catchment areas was under the jurisdiction of county governments according to the new constitution and the Inter-Governmental Act should be followed to save innocent Kenyans from preventable disasters.
He said his wish was to see the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) partnering with county governments in drafting a memorandum which will enable them come up with a joint policy of conserving water towers in all the 47 counties.
Mr. Wafula warned that his administration will take stern action against public officials and members of the public who frustrate government agencies charged with the responsibility of implementing government policies especially those enshrined in the Agenda Four that include environmental conservation.
County Conservator Bernard Orinda noted that the 25 percent forest cover was not enough hence more efforts need to be done to increase the tree cover saying already 840 hectares of land was covered in 2016 during county’s tree planting exercise.
By Christopher Kiprop