SOUTH COAST RESIDENTS HAND SAND DIGGERS THEIR FIRST DEFEAT
(Posted 08th July 2015)
The South Coast Residents Association, an alliance bringing together local and foreign residents as well as resorts and other businesses from Likoni over Tiwi to Diani and beyond, have tasted their first victory in their battle to keep the dreaded dredgers off the South Coast.
During a recent visit to Diani and interaction with SCRA executives was it all but clear that the dredger was illegally operating in Diani waters, prompting an immediate appeal to the NEMA Tribunal to halt such activities.
NEMA had, in their infinite wisdom, and there is speculation flying high and low what might have prompted Kenya’s environmental watchdog to grant the dredgers a license, given the Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation company a permit to extract initially some 800.000 tons of sand for the construction of a new SGR Rail Terminal with the overall requirement standing at an estimated 5 million tons.
The company’s environmental expert, one Prof. Kibwage, presently subject to intense speculation by the grapevine in Diani over his motives, had tried to pull the proverbial wool over the eyes of SCRA members when he claimed dredging would only take place off Likoni while failing to disclose that the license also covered Tiwi and Waa and that actual dredging was taking place right off Diani.
South coast based divers however were promptly promising to dive where the dredger was spotted and to produce evidence to the contrary, very likely showing pictures of a reef left bare of sand and bare of life after the dredger sucked the life out of the seabed and the reef. The good professor is probably ending up under a professional cloud, maybe even discredited for the rest of his life but at the very least with the proverbial egg all over his face, a fair price to pay for the proverbial 30 silver coins he must have received for his ‘expertise’.
Meanwhile though has the Tribunal sided with SCRA and halted any and all dredging operations with immediate effect, which in any case lacked the permission of the Kwale County Government, until the main case has been determined and decided, which can take months if not longer.
While alternate sand sources exist is the company said to be shy of using those due to the cost, but what few yet know and appreciate is the added cost for coast residents vis a vis their water supply. The sea sand needs to be washed several times in fresh water and with the coast already suffering a supply shortfall of some 40 percent would the use of fresh water for the purpose of cleaning the ocean sand of salt further strain the available supply, very likely leaving water pipes dry and residents and businesses either thirsty or else having to buy tanker load after tanker load of water at inflated prices.
Demands have also surfaced to have the NEMA officials involved in the decision investigated by the country’s anti-corruption body to establish if any foul play had taken place, not a prospect NEMA’s executives would fancy, as, once those doors have been opened, who knows what else might emerge from the bushes when they are beaten.