African Press International (API)

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Commission to spearhead a 3.4 billion project – Enhancing transport in lake Victoria

Posted by African Press International on July 25, 2016

By Dickens Wasonga.

Lake Victoria basin commission, a body created by EAC to help in sustainable management of the basins shared resources is set to implement a 3 .4 billion project to boost navigation in lake Victoria.

The 3.4 billion project will see rescue and search centers developed within the Kenyan, Uganda and Tanzanian sides of lake Victoria.

Negations which has been ongoing between the commission and African development bank towards the financing for the project is expected to end in September this year.

Speaking when he held his inaugural media briefing at his office in Kisumu, the new LVBC executive secretary Dr Ali-Said Matano said the commission was interested in ensuring safety of navigation within the lake.

He said it was a concern that lake transport was still faced with alot of challenges and many people, among them fishermen continue to lose lives in the lake.

Only recently, on the Kenyan side of the lake, nine people died when their boat capsized. The nine were members of a music band who perished while traveling from liunda Beach in siaya county to ndeda island .

Many more fishermen continue to die when in fishing expedition in lake Victoria.

Dr.Matano, the first Kenyan to head the EAC outfit and the third executive Secretary since the commission was established in 2004 said lake Victoria transport ACT was now in place which will ensure all member states comply with the set safety regulations.

He said that amongst others, the transport Act requires that all vessels in the lake, including those canoes used by the fishermen must have life saving jackets.

The Executive Secretary said for the regulations to succeed in terms of implementation, government agencies charged with ensuring safety in the lake at the country level must also help with enforcement. He urged Kenya maritime authority to help with this.

Dr. Matano who takes LVBC leadership from Dr Canasias Kanangire from Rwanda for a period of five years said to further boost navigation safety in the lake ,EAC through world Bank has installed 37 navigation boosters in the Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

He said that weather forecasting equipment will also be installed soon so that those navigating the lake can use them to determine the weather and receive alerts as away to enhance their safety. Three such equipment will be installed in each of the three states .

To ease lake pollution, the commission will also partner with county governments within the riperian areas to create artificial wetlands to help filter the river waters draining into lake Victoria and reduce further pollution.

” Industrial effluent that gets into the lake is compromising water quality and even leading to the fluctuating water levels. We will continue to support intervention measures that are environmental friendly and sustainable to ensure the living standards of our people is improved by actors complying with EAC standards” said Dr Matano.

The executive secretary who has worked with EAC for 17 years said that amongst other things, he would be happy to see the completion of the LVBC headquarters.

He said already the community, through its council of ministers have allowed the commission to establish a reserve fund where unutilized funds every financial year can be put rather than resending it back to Arusha so that the headquarter project can be implemented.

Nine years ago the Kenyan government donated 2.5 acres piece of land along the shores of lake Victoria in Kisumu so that the commission could build its headquarters but the project stalled due to lack of funds.

LVBC which is the only EAC organization hosted in Kenya coordinates various activities aimed at the sustainability of shared resources within the basin. It promotes sustainable management of the basins ecosystem, supporting programs that boost living conditions of the people found in the basin and addressing issues relating to population, issues of governance and policy areas with a view to coming up with harmonized regulatory framework.

End.

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