Tourism stakeholders in Kwale County want the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to stop sand harvesting and dumping of dredged materials in the sea because it is negatively affecting the fragile biodiversity.
KPA is extracting sand from Kwale beaches to be used for port upgrading and expansion works at the port of Mombasa.
Addressing a press conference at the Indian Ocean Beach Resort in Diani, the stakeholders said extraction of sand and dumping of dredged materials would not only impact on the environment but would also have far-reaching social and economic implications.
Led by the chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Harald Kampa, the stakeholders noted that sand removal from beaches would jeopardise the sustainable development of the local tourism industry.
“Sand harvesting and dumping of dredged materials has had a big impact on the tourism industry as hotel bookings have dropped and related service providers in transport, restaurant and recreational industry are all reporting declines in business,” said Kampa.
Kampa observed that Diani Beach, which has been feted by the World Travel Awards as Africa’s leading beach destination, risks its values and aesthetics getting completely eroded and destroyed.
The association’s coast branch executive Sam Ikwaye said the National Environmental Management Authority should order an independent social and environment impact assessment along the Shelly to Diani stretch of the coastline in respect of sand harvesting and dumping of dredged materials.
He said unregulated offshore sea sand harvesting was posing a great threat to the coastline and was a major source of coastal erosion leading to severe environmental damage.
Ikwaye said stakeholders recently met the parliamentary committee on environment and natural resources and made their stand known on the need for sustainable ocean utilisation for posterity.
He said the government should set up a fund for the rehabilitation and restoration of beaches destroyed by sand harvesting and dumping of dredged materials.
By Hussein Abdullahi