Uncontrolled sand harvesting along the banks of the River Nzoia has seen the residents of Rapenji village in the South West Alego location, Siaya, lose close to 10 acres of farmland to the river.
With no intervention from the relevant government, despite making numerous visits to the authorities, the residents are worried that soon they will lose everything after the river forced a waterway through one of the farms, creating an island.
They now have to use a canoe to reach some of their farms, where, ironically, the sand scoopers also continue with their business unabated along the banks.
When a team from the media visited the scene, which is situated in the Sigoma-Uranga sub-location, the residents lamented that the uncontrolled activity has seen the river claim huge tracts of land due to erosion.
According to Sylvester Omondi Odinga, the locals’ complaints are always ignored by the sand scoopers, whom he alleged had the backing of a senior Siaya county assembly official who hails from the neighbouring Ugenya sub-county.
Odinga said that food insecurity was a threat to the community as the land that they had used over the years for cultivation was diminishing by the day.
His sentiments are supported by Evelyn Akinyi Ochieng, who says that they are always threatened with violence whenever they confront the sand scoopers.
Mrs. Ochieng says that apart from the illegal mining activities by the river bank that expose their farms to erosion, the sand scoopers also relieve themselves in the river, hence polluting the water.
A farm owner, Thomas Owegi Mudura, lamented that the government and law enforcement officers have been adamant about tackling their complaints, adding that several of their colleagues who tried to confront the aggressors had in the past been assaulted.
“This year, they slashed one of us with a panga, and the case was reported to the police. Last year, they also did the same, and no action has been taken to date,” complained Mudura.
Lucia Akoth Onyango and George Ouma Ofwona called for quick government intervention to save their farms from being washed away.
Ofwona called on Alego/Usonga member of parliament, Samuel Atandi, to urgently intervene and take up the matter with high offices.
By Philip Onyango