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NEMA orders Ugandan firm to stop illegal sand harvesting in Kenya

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has with immediate effect suspended a Ugandan- based Mango Tree Marine Company Limited from harvesting sand in Lake Victoria.

In a letter to the Company, the Authority confirmed that there was unlawful excavation of sand going on around Takawiri Island and the contractor has been directed to cease operations immediately.

The move follows complaints from leaders and residents of Homabay County over massive harvesting of white sand by the company using a 70 metres long and 4,000-tonne dredging vessel.

The illegal harvesting was reported at Takawiri Island after the vessel was sighted in Mbita, Mfangano and Rusinga Islands.

“It has been confirmed that there was sand harvesting in the Kenya part of Lake Victoria, around Takawiri Island, volumes and quantities of which have not been confirmed yet, and the reasons why it was not made known,” said NEMA Director-General Mamo Mamo in a letter to the Company.

Mamo clarified that the Company had only been licensed to dredge Kisumu Port, Dunga area and Nyanza Golf Club.

“The Authority shall take appropriate action against the culprit in the event of a breach of any of the conditions stated therein or any contravention of the Environmental Management and Coordination Act (EMCA), CAP 387 and the regulation therein,”added the DG.

The Company has seven days to state the amount of sand harvested in Takawiri and its destination.

Company officials have been summoned to NEMA headquarters in Nairobi this week.

Last week, Homabay Senator Moses Kajwang sought the intervention of the chair of the Senate Committee on Lands, Environment and Natural Resources to ascertain if Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public participation authorising dredging activities around the Islands was undertaken.

by George Kaiga

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