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KPA on the spot over sea harvesting’s impact on aquatic life

Kenya Ports Authority has come under criticism for dredging and sea sand harvesting in Kwale County to expand its operations without proper stakeholders’ consultations as required by environmental laws.
In a stormy meeting at Diani Saturday, the authority had a difficult time defending its activities in Waa and Tiwi sea sand mining sites where it was accused of choking and killing marine life through massive dredging which started a month ago.
The sand is being used in the construction of the Sh. 40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal under the Second Phase of the Mombasa Port Development Project (MPDP).
Led by the South Coast Residents Association chairperson Ms. Luciana Parazzi, the stakeholders questioned why the sea excavation had resumed yet the government had issued an order stopping it in March 2019 after they protested.
They called for an immediate stop to the dredging until the necessary consultations were done warning that failure to do so would aggravate the environmental damage already caused in the affected areas.
“We are not opposed to the port expansion project but are only demanding that it is done properly to avert environmental degradation which is already happening with devastating effects on marine life,” said Parazzi.
Other stakeholders included hoteliers, fishermen, beach management units, and environmentalists who said the removal of the sea sand will also compromise the integrity of Diani beach which has been voted as the best beach destination in Africa for five consecutive years.
They demanded a comprehensive environment impact assessment be done to ascertain the likely impacts of dredging activities in the targeted areas.
They questioned why they were being consulted after the activities had already started accusing KPA management of not being sincere in the whole matter.
Chairperson of South Coast Association of Local Tour Operators Mr. Sally Mathenge, said stakeholder engagement ought to have come earlier for proper consensus building.
A marine biologist Ms. Joanna Hancock said the dredging is affecting the coral reef in the excavation area and damaging marine life breeding areas and fishing sites.
“The Tiwi reef is already under stress and cannot sustain any more pressure from the ongoing dredging,” she told the meeting.
KPA head of project development Kennedy Nyaga said the government had lifted the order on dredging after an evaluation report by an independent assessor came out.
“The harvesting resumed based on the findings of the assessor and the measures the government demanded we adhere to,” said Mr. Nyaga adding that the stoppage was very costly to the authority.
The authority’s head of infrastructure development Alfred Masha who represented Managing Director Daniel Manduku at the meeting said they were concerned about marine environmental impact when undertaking their projects.
It was finally agreed further consultations will be conducted between KPA and representatives of the various stakeholders to iron out the sticky issues.
By Shaban Omar/James Muchai

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