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Nema launch Nairobi river clean-up exercise

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) has embarked on the cleanup of the Nairobi River Basin in order to rescue the Sh82 billion Thwake Dam from pollution.

The Authority was early this month directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure polluted tributaries draining into the dam are cleaned in order for water fed into the dam to be safe for human consumption.

This is after Auditor General Nancy Gathungu raised alarm over the safety of the water that will be fed into the dam, saying the polluted and unsafe water could render the dam a white elephant, following a damning environmental and social impact assessment of the project.

Yesterday, Nema Director-General Mamo Boru said the Authority had commenced the exercise and it will take 90 days to ensure the entire system is rid of pollutants.

The dam’s main supply is Athi River, whose main tributary is the Nairobi River that has been polluted with heavy metals, residual fecal and organic matter.

Last week, Nema inspected the Nairobi River Basin from Ondiri Swamp all the way to Thwake and identified 142 illegal discharge points, 42 industrial facilities, and 75 illegal structures along the river, which have been marked for demolition.

Mr Boru pointed out that they have also mapped out all informal settlements along the river basin identifying 54 illegal dumpsites for closure.

“We want to assure citizens that water from Thwake Dam will be spotlessly clean once we are through in the next three months. We began last week and we are giving ourselves 90 days to do so,” said Mr Boru.

Subsequently, a multi-agency team has been established as part of a multi-pronged strategy to ensure only clean water gets into the dam.

Nairobi Metropolitan Services will be charged with addressing solid waste management issues, Water Resources Authority to test water quality and peg riparian areas, Athi Water Works to improve sewerage infrastructure while Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company to ensure proper management of the sewerage system by repairing the broken ones, unblocking the blocked ones to have a functional sewerage system in Nairobi.