Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko on Saturday ordered speedy planting of mangroves along Kenya's coastline to mitigate effects of environmental degradation.
The CS directed top officers in the ministry, led by Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau, to enforce a 100-day Rapid Results Initiative for the 4,000 hectares of land along the ocean.
“Mr Kamau, I want you to [carry out the initiative] so that when we come again after a month, this area is covered with mangroves," he said, and asked Kenyans to continue planting trees.
“Forest cover stands at 7.2 percent yet during independence it was at 30 percent. What happened to the 23 percent? Did it rot? We destroyed the forests; we have ourselves to blame,” he said at Ganaola creek in Mikindani, Mombasa County.
Mr Tobiko noted that the government is keen on achieving 10 percent forest cover by 2022 and that the public will help fulfill this dream.
He said President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order on this achievement means that 500 million seedlings must be planted each year.
“If during every rainy season, each of the 45 million Kenyans plants five trees, we will achieve that target. It is possible,” he said.
The CS thanked Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho for conservation efforts that saw the Kibarani dumpsite reclaimed.
“It was an eyesore to visitors but the efforts of Governor Joho and his team saw the place transformed into a recreation area. These are the things we would like to see happening all over the country,” said Mr Tobiko.
Mr Tobiko, however, faulted the county's officers of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) for ocean pollution, saying they had been ignorant.
“The work of Nema is to make sure the environment is clean. A CS does not have to come from Nairobi [to collect waste] for you. Please, this should not be repeated," he said.
He told Mombasa's Nema boss Stephen Wambua to issue licences to community groups that would like to participate in conservation of the marine forest ecosystem.
Mr Tobiko further asked Mr Kamau to crack the whip on lazy officers from the ministry.
“I will not allow lazy officers to operate in this ministry. We sacked the top team at the KFS because of laziness and corruption," he said.
"I am happy that you are changing things there but don’t allow lazy officers to derail the government agenda. Sack them and give the jobs to Kenyans who wants to work."
Mombasa County Commissioner Evans Achoki said his office and the community had planted more than 4,000 trees since the government announced plans for the 10 percent forest cover by 2022.
Mr Tobiko later witnessed the signing of a five-year partnership deal between the Insurance Regulatory Authority and the Kenya Forest Service on protection of Kenya's forests.
IRA chairman Abdulrahim Abdi said, “We partnered in this noble project because we understand the importance of a healthy environment and the government's forest cover goal."