Exploring both local and international innovative methods is crucial to address the pollution of Athi River caused by industrial effluents.
Dr. Pamela Olet, Chairperson of the Nairobi River Commission (NRC), emphasized the urgency for the government to partner with local businesses, NGOs, civil society organizations, and communities. This collaboration is essential to implement comprehensive measures ensuring the improvement of water quality in Nairobi River right from its source.
“The most important thing is to provide quality water to our people for use. When we talk about innovations locally or Internationally, we are trying to see how we can collaborate with other stakeholders to improve the water quality,” said Dr. Olet.
Addressing the media during a visit to Thwake Multipurpose Dam, which is fed by the Nairobi River, the chairperson underscored the importance of conducting comprehensive research and monitoring effluents discharged into the river. She attributed the rising cancer cases among Lower Eastern Region residents to the pollutants.
Furthermore, she highlighted that the upstream pollution has escalated the construction costs of Thwake Dam. The water will now undergo treatment before distribution to residents for domestic use, adding an extra step to the process.
Dr. Olet said Thwake will be a transformative force for the Lower Eastern Region, generating job opportunities, particularly for unemployed youth, with a focus on the agriculture and energy sectors.
“We have seen once we are done with this project, a lot of economic activities will be generated, besides the livelihoods being created in the agriculture and energy sectors,” she reiterated.
The chairperson revealed that her organization uses awareness and persuasion strategies to engage companies responsible for polluting Nairobi River, aiming to curb the detrimental trend.
Despite these efforts, Dr. Olet cautioned that the Nairobi River Commission (NRC) would resort to strict measures against companies that do not cease emitting raw effluent into the river.
“We may be forced to review our policies and regulations if persuasion fails to work. Then we move to another level of enforcement,” Dr. Olet warned.
She disclosed that NRC is also involved in planting of trees in catchment areas in Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi and Makueni counties respectively.
In his remarks, Ibrahim Mwakare, the Officer in Charge of Health Safety and Environment at Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) said that Thwake dam was faced with the threat of silting due to huge heaps of sand deposited by Thwake River, following heavy rains that have pounded the area in the last three weeks.
“We have witnessed huge heaps of sand deposited at the confluence of Thwake and Athi rivers after heavy rains pounded the area in the past three weeks. A lasting solution must be found as this threatens the existence of the dam due to silting,” warned Mwakare.