1, 700 servicemen to remove water hyacinth
The government has recruited 1, 700 National Youth Service (NYS) cohorts to help remove the water hyacinth which has paralyzed fishing and transportation at Lake Victoria.
The youth, drawn from Ugenya, Rarieda and Bondo, were expected to manually remove the weed which has choked over 40, 000 hectares of the lake.
State House Spokesperson Dr. Manoa Esipisu said the move was part of the national government’s initiative to get rid of the weed while at the same time creating employment for the youth.
Speaking during his weekly media briefing held at Kisumu State Lodge Monday, Dr. Esipisu said the government, with assistance from donors, has set aside Sh200 million for removal of the water hyacinth.
In addition, the government, through its normal payment system, shall pay the cohorts a monthly stipend for the work, he said.
Dr. Esipisu said the government was scouting for ways to use the harvested water hyacinth to make eco- friendly paper bags and support the initiative to eradicate use of polythene paper bags that is on the increase.
He said the youth working under the programme have been helped to join Savings and Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs) where they shall remit part of their earnings for future use.
He disclosed that since the inception of the NYS cohort’s programme, a total of Sh90.8 million has been saved through the SACCOs in Kisumu alone.
“The youth are now able to borrow from this kitty and venture into other income generating activities,” he said.
To sustain the cohorts programme, he said, the relevant government departments and ministries have been directed to come up with other activities to engage the youth once they were done harvesting the weed.
The State House Spokesperson further disclosed that the government was in talks with the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC) to increase minimum wage for workers ahead of this year’s Labour Day Celebrations.
“Workers have something to look up to because the government is keen on reviewing the wages which have not been increased for the last two years,” he said.
He added that the government was keen on improving the perks of workers at the Economic Processing Zones (EPZ) under which goods worth Sh400 million were exported every year.
In the same vein, he said the government was looking at the proposals presented by SRC on salaries of uniformed officers to ensure that it was in tandem with the work they do.
Meanwhile, preparations are in top gear ahead of the president’s visit to the Lakeside City Tuesday.
According to Dr. Esipisu, the president shall attend a gala for the just concluded National Drama Festivals at the Kisumu State Lodge Tuesday morning.
The president is also expected to tour government projects in the region but his itinerary was not clear by the time we went to press.
By Chris Mahandara