The Nation’s week-long expose of Kenya’s rivers of poison has galvanised public discourse on mismanagement of natural resources and the attendant environmental and health hazards.
However, we are alarmed that the political establishment is not taking the matter seriously.
No political leader has talked about the menace, demonstrating sheer lack of goodwill to deal with environmental deprivation.
Yet during election campaigns, they pontificate about environmental management.
Thus far, at the national government, it is Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui who has issued warnings to polluters and challenged the regional water agencies to take action against the culprits.
But the warnings were not strong enough and lack sense of urgency. At any rate, such threats are not new.
The authorities are wont to issue statements at the spur of the moment but quickly retreat to their comfort zones once the heat subsides.
For now, we would have expected tangible and drastic actions against those adulterating our waters. But it’s all quiet.
Factories and individuals encroaching on river basins and emptying effluents onto the waters are known.
The geographies and locations were plainly mapped out. Agencies failing in their duty to apprehend and enforce regulations are also known. But nothing has been done to them or about them.
Compliance to environmental safety is a legal imperative. Agencies such as the National Environmental Management Authority are responsible for the enforcement but other than feeble statements that exhibit helplessness, are not taking action against the wrongdoers.
Yet, the agencies have legal powers to do what is expected them; not resorting to complaints and lamentations.
Nairobi County Government has not reacted to the exposition at all, yet it is the greatest culprit and also the most affected. Nairobi River and its tributaries are sick.
They collect and drain their mess downstream, affecting thousands of people all the way to the Coast. But the city itself is not safe.
Residents are exposed to dangerous chemicals and fumes from the river. City dwellers are hapless and unsuspecting consumers of crops grown through contaminated water.
Fish, and other foodstuffs, sold in Nairobi is soiled. This is why Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and his administration must seize themselves of the matter and seek punishment for the poisoners.
At least governors Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni and Alfred Mutua of Machakos have taken up the matter and pledged to fight dumpers in their jurisdictions. We challenged them to live up to their promise.
Overall, we demand action from the government to save our waters.
Ministries of Water and Sanitation, Health, Environment and Forestry must collectively deal with the menace; enforce rules and rein in the perpetrators.
Importantly, we call for political action to stop degradation of the rivers and other water sources.