Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Car washing barred on shores of Lake Victoria

Joseph Agutu a fishermen turned sand harvester scoops sand from the bed of Lake Victoria near Ngege Beach and loads it onto his boat. Pollution at the lake has exposed sand harvesters to skin diseases. Photo/TOM OTIENO

Joseph Agutu a fishermen turned sand harvester scoops sand from the bed of Lake Victoria near Ngege Beach and loads it onto his boat. Pollution at the lake has exposed sand harvesters to skin diseases. Photo/TOM OTIENO 

By STELLA CHERONO sscherono@ke.nationmedia.com

Car washing has been prohibited on the shores of Lake Victoria to curb pollution.

The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) has built five car-wash sites away from the lake in Kisumu’s Kibuye, Kaloleni, Kisumu Polytechnic and in Kondele.

Nema wetlands officer Dan Ashitiva cited car-wash, farm fertilisers and industrial effluence as key pollutants of the lake, leading to formation of green algae that is a nightmare for fishermen and domestic users of Lake Victoria water.

Become a menace

“Youth who used to wash cars at Dunga, Luang’ni, Kaloka and Ogal on the lake shore have been moved to the new locations which have running water and proper drainage systems,” Mr Ashitiva said.

He said the effect of the green algae on human health was yet to be established, but it had become a menace to those who rely on the lake water.

Apart from the green algae, pollution of the lake had caused massive deaths of fish and promoted the growth of water hyacinth.

Nema has been working closely with the Environment ministry to remove the algae, hippo grass and water hyacinth from the lake.

The authority’s enforcement and compliance officer, Mr Anthony Saisi, said efforts to conserve the lake should begin with monitoring the activities on the land around it.

“The algae has compromised the freshness of the lake. It smells badly and affects aquatic life,” he said.

Mr Saisi urged surrounding communities to avoid dumping waste in the lake.

Fishermen and sand harvesters on several beaches in Kisumu complained that the green algae causes them skin ailments and that they can no longer use lake water for cooking.

“The water smells and chokes people who work in the lake like sand harvesters,” said a fisherman, Mr Joseph Alila.

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