Experts call for demolition of Mbita causeway in Lake Victoria
Monday, May 27, 2002
The East African Standard (Nairobi, Kenya). By Newton Nyaranga
Environmental and marine experts have called for the demolition of the controversial Mbita causeway in Lake Victoria.
Built in 1983, the 200-metre channel links Rusinga island and Mbita mainland in Suba District.
The experts told the Task Force on Review of Maritime Laws in Kisumu at the weekend that the causeway was built in total disregard of marine and environmental concerns.
They urged the Government to treat the matter with urgency to save the lake's biodiversity.
An environmental researcher, Prof Joseph Ouma Muga, said no feasibility studies were conducted before construction of the project.
Muga, who is the managing director of Development and Environmental Research Agency (Dera), said building of the causeway had resulted in enormous destruction to Lake Victoria ecosystem.
"This causeway was built without any feasibility study and the involvement of the local community, it must be demolished to save the lake resource on which thousands of people depend for their livelihood," said Muga.
But the Nyanza Provincial Water Engineer, Mr Gideon Miyongo, said the channel was a pilot project and its effects were still under study.
He pleaded with the experts to be patient until the end of this year when the results of the study will be made public.
"This is only a pilot project and we are still studying its effects on the lake, it would be better that you be patient until the end of the year," he said.
But this drew the ire of the experts who questioned why the Government commissioned the project without first conducting a feasibility study.
"The problem with our country is that we initiate programmes without carrying out any impact assessment studies, then spend colossal amounts of money studying their effects," said Ben Muga of Consumer Watch.
Prof Muga said Mbita channel had destroyed fish breeding grounds and hampered shipping trade within the gulf.