Ban on sand harvesting still on, Lenku says
The Kajiado Governor, Joseph Ole Lenku has emphasised that the ban on sand harvesting in the County was still on despite an outcry from stakeholders who said they have suffered immense losses since the ban came into force a week ago.
In a meeting held in Kajiado town with the stakeholders, Lenku noted that sand harvesting had resulted in serious environmental degradation and the ban was aimed at regulating the sector to stop further destruction.
He added that the situation had become dire due to an increased demand for sand used in construction in neighbouring towns including Kitengela, Kiserian, Ngong, Machakos and Nairobi.
“Unregulated sand harvesting is increasingly becoming a major threat to the environment. We need to enact serious legislation to regulate sand harvesting as rivers are drying up. There are no regulations that provide a roadmap on how to protect our environment, infrastructure and most importantly, the conditions that our people are working within, especially the sand loaders,” said Lenku.
Lenku told sand harvesters who were pressing for the ban to be lifted that the rules and regulations must be followed for sanity in the sector to be restored.
He also condemned the stoning and destruction of County Government vehicles last week by sand harvesters after the ban was announced.
“Individuals who pelted my officers and vehicles with stones must surrender themselves to the police so that we can discuss further on whether to lift the ban or not but in the meantime, the ban will continue to be enforced,” said Lenku.
The Governor further ordered sand brokers and transporters who have set base at the edge of AIC Boarding Primary School to move out of the site and seek alternative space as they were interfering with learning activities.
He accused them of interfering with the school’s fence, adding that their behaviour hampered the girls from the school from concentrating on their learning.
The Deputy Governor, Martin Moshisho said lorries ferrying sand were the major destructors of the roads as they overloaded the vehicles.
“Due to sand overload on trucks, our roads have not been able to withstand for long, disrupting transport and because of that, the owner of any lorry found carrying sand will have to come for it in court,” he warned.
Joshua Sepeina, a sand loader from Sajiloni, said they were ready to comply with laws set by the County Government to regulate sand harvesting as the ban had resulted in job losses, especially among the youth.
More than 500 trucks ferrying sand leave Kajiado every day for Nairobi and its satellite towns.
Sand transporters from the County were required to pay a flat fee of Sh.60, 000 per month in taxes but many of them resort to giving out bribes to revenue collectors, leaving the County coffers with less revenue.
The County collects Sh.140 million in sand revenue annually, and says it has a potential to collect Sh.240 million annually if sanity was restored in the industry.
By Rop Janet/Albert Lemomo