Saturday, 24 August 2013

KISUMU Groups turn water hyacinth into cash cow

Water hyacinth has turned into a multi-billion cash cow as organisations try to harvest the strangler weed from the world’s second largest fresh water lake. Until April this year, the unwelcome plant had covered 10,000 hectares on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria.
Some organisations that have conducted research on hyacinth and how it can be contained are the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (Kemfri), the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme (LVEMP), the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Magnam Environmental Network, as well as community-based group, Agulu.
Kemfri senior scientist Reuben Omondi said Lake Victoria has sprung back to life after the hyacinth carpet dried and sunk into the water mass.
“It is important for organisations working on the water master acquired at Sh500 million to be transparent to the public. They should let people know that the hyacinth had sunk long before the machine was acquired,” he said.
The Kisumu County government pledged Sh500 million for removal of hyacinth by first acquiring the water master, which is now operating. The machine was to be operated by LVEMP2 and Kenya Maritime Authority.
“The communities affected want a permanent solution to the problem. We are tired of the hyacinth, which has stifled our livelihood,” said Magnam Environmental Network, a fisherfolks’ lobby group chaired by Mr Mike Nyaguti.
He said the machine is experiencing difficulties crushing hippo grass, its speed is slower than manual removal of hyacinth, and that it does not measure up to the amount of money it was bought.
The weed has choked the livelihoods of fishermen with a potential of harvesting a million tonnes of fish annually worth about Sh56.9 billion. A section of stakeholders, however, see a blessing in the weed because it creates job opportunities and contracts worth millions of shillings.
Osienala, a Kisumu-based NGO launched in 1992 to combat the spread of the weed, has diverted its attention from the plant despite the numerous funds channelled to it by donors.
LVEMP has been at the centre of squabbles pitting other environment stakeholders, who claim that the organisation has been squandering funds meant for hyacinth removal.
Among the first projects on hyacinth was one in 1994 mooted by LVEMP and funded by the World Bank to the tune of Sh6.1 billion to be shared between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Kenya, through LVEMP, used Sh131.3 million.
The results were not reflected as the five-year programme backfired with the hyacinth spreading to other parts of the lake.
An LVEMP official who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak for the entity, told Smart Company that procurement of equipment was bogged down by bureaucracy and mystery. The process was too long, revolving around the Treasury, the Ministry of Environment, and the Central Bank of Kenya.
LVEMP national coordinator Francisca Owuor, when contacted on phone, said she was out of the office.
The livelihoods of fishermen who eke a living from the lake are still threatened since scientists have maintained that hyacinth can only be managed, not eliminated.
“Continuous disposal of industrial waste into the lake has been a challenge to management of hyacinth as it keeps sprouting at an alarming rate,” said Kemfri lead researcher, Dr Oweke Ojwang. A report by the Kenya National Cleaners Production Centre late last year said 90 per cent of regional industries release thousands of tonnes of effluent into the fresh water lake yearly.
Drama has since taken centre-stage in hyacinth removal among stakeholders, with some feeling that they were sidelined from a share of the funds. LVEMP2 is currently in a row with a fishermen’s lobby over alleged mismanagement of funds released for emergency removal of hyacinth.
In 2011, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission launched investigations into the claims. The EACC wrote to the LVEMP programme national coordinator demanding all documents on the project.
The former EACC regional coordinator in Kisumu, Mr David Too, said they expected LVEMP officers to provide documents regarding the procurement services and financial commitments of the project. The case is ongoing.

PHOTO Kisumu- Kondele Round About Plan....

This is how Nyamasaria Interchange now under construction will look like upon completion

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Kisumu investors Cry Foul over Flights Diversion to Entebbe

Diversion of international planes to as far as Entebbe following Wednesday’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) fire has sparked debate as Kisumu business stakeholders and hoteliers cry foul.

Kisumu Business Association through its chief executive Aba Eban questioned the motive behind diverting flights to Entebbe yet the lakeside airport had been marked for international arrivals, making it the first alternative at times of crisis.

“We have the best runway compared to other airports in the country and yet no government agency could make sense of it and send planes to the lakeside town when fire broke out at JKIA,” said Mr Eban.

“The crisis made Kisumu lose business when we could get more revenue through incoming flights at the time that Nairobi’s JKIA was a no go zone.”

In an interview with the Business Daily on the issues raised by the business community, Kisumu airport manager Joseph Okumu said the facility had been upgraded to an international status, saying it can handle an annual turnout of up to 300,000 passengers.

“The airport receives chartered flights from Egypt, Nigeria, and Tanzania making passenger numbers grow by 20 per cent since the airport was upgraded. We also have a standard runway that can handle big aeroplanes, but the decision to divert flights to Mombasa, Eldoret or Entebbe was not within our control as the ministry has established strict guidelines,” said Mr Okumu.

Daniel Okumu, the chairman of Lake Victoria Tourism Association said during the recent fuel hitch at JKIA, planes were also diverted to Entebbe.

“Why avoid Kisumu yet it is rated as an international airport?” he asked.

The chairman of Lake Victoria Tourism Association said Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), the Ministry of Transport and other decision-making agencies should ‘‘stop politics and concentrate on equal development of all regions.’’

“Kisumu has grown to a level where the airport’s runway can accommodate a number of planes, at the same time our hotel capacity is sufficient to host guests who might have been offloaded to Kisumu, the politics on this matter must stop once and for all,” said Mr Okumu.

He said the circuit lost the opportunity to make millions of shillings in revenue that could have been raised from the flights that were cancelled on the day of the crisis.

“Wednesdays are normally brisk days for tourism in the western circuit; we lost an opportunity to earn revenue for this country,” he said.

Kenya Chamber of Commerce Kisumu Chapter chairperson Ben Kitoto said that the business community has lodged complaints.

“Use of Kisumu airport during any crisis is a good opportunity to rate its capability to handle international flights,” said Mr Kitoto.

According to the KAA information site, the first phase of construction of Kisumu airport cost Sh3.4 billion, the second phase is budgeted to cost Sh1.9 billion.

- Business Daily

Friday, 9 August 2013

Photo Impalas at Kisumu Impala Sanctuary



The 112-page directory comprises businesses categories dealing in agriculture, transport, health, finance, industrial products and electric equipment.

The creation of the Hindu's community first ever business directory for the western region is aimed creating a platform for small-scale entrepreneurs’ to network and market their products

The council’s Kisumu branch chairman, Mr Naresh Patel said during the launch in Kisumu - that the document is part of an emerging new trend aimed at helping the community leverage its strength and grow in business through networking and exchange of ideas.