The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has ordered a Chinese company on Takawiri Island to stop harvesting sand.
A Mango Tree Marine Ltd dredger is said to have scooped large quantities of sand from the bottom of the lake in Mfangano East location on Wednesday and Saturday, to the chagrin of residents.
In a letter to the company, Nema Director-General Mamo Boro Mamo summoned the directors of Mango Tree Marine Ltd over the sand harvesting.
They have been ordered to present themselves for a compliance meeting at Nema offices in Nairobi on February 23. The meeting will also be attended by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) as it is heavily involved in revitalising Kisumu port.
“You are to communicate to the authority within seven days from the date of this letter the extent of the illegal operations being undertaken in Takawiri, Rusinga and Mfangano islands as well as Mbita,” reads the letter to the company.
The authority took the decision following complaints by Takawiri and Mfangano residents.
The Nema chief said the environmental impact assessment licence and a certificate of variation of the same permit for the revitalisation of the port is restricted to the Kisumu metropolitan area.
“Your operations in Mbita, Takawiri Island, Rusinga Island and Mfangano are in contravention of the Nema licence,” Mr Mamo said in the letter.
He added that such activities require notification to the authority before approvals are granted.
Mr Mamo stressed the need for the company to work with State agencies to protect and conserve the environment, ensure the ecological sustainable development and use of natural resources.
He said Nema would take appropriate action against KPA if conditions stated in the environment regulations are breached.
The letter from Nema came as Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang demanded an explanation from Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on why the dredger owned by a foreign company was harvesting sand from Lake Victoria.
The lawmaker wrote to the Senate Lands, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, asking it to summon Mr Tobiko.
Mr Kajwang also urged the team chaired by Nyandarua Senator Paul Mwangi to summon the CS to shed light on the mission of the company’s vessel in the lake.
According to Mr Kajwang, the dredger, which has since left the island to an unknown location, is likely to interfere with the ecosystems of the lake and the islands.
“Several organisations, including Nema and the Homa Bay county government, want to know why and how the vessel arrived in Takawiri and who authorised the owners to harvest sand,” Mr Kajwang said, adding that he is a champion of the blue economy.
The senator said he is concerned about fishermen and other people who depend on the lake.