KPA defend themselves over port projects claims to harming marine life

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Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on Friday disproved claims that the ongoing port expansion and infrastructural projects were impacting negatively on the coastal marine ecosystem. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had raised concerns that contaminated deposits were affecting the marine biodiversity at Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve.

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KWS senior warden John Wambua expressed worries the dredging operation was resulting in the destruction of coral reefs and marine sea grasses besides disturbing marine mammals and turtles. ‘‘As KWS we want more efforts to be made to safeguard the marine environment that is essential for the breeding of fish population as the dredging work progresses,’’ he said.

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The authority also refuted allegations by Mombasa fishermen that port dredging and disposal activities had caused declining fish catches in the region. KPA head of Project Development and Management Kennedy Nyaga said due diligence was done before the authority embarked on construction of the Kipevu Oil Terminal and expansion of the port’s second container terminal.

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He said marine environmental impact assessment on the potential impacts of the suspended sediment and displaced dredged materials was carried out by a multi-agency team comprising KPA, Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), KWS and National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and that there was no cause for concern. He said dredging is a fundamental activity for most ports and harbours around the world and KPA undertakes excavation every 10 years.

Environmentalist Michael Odhiambo, consulting for the port dredging project, said water quality data and marine biodata has not been severely affected to warrant suspension of the projects. Coast Nema director Titus Simiyu said the environmental watchdog would continue to monitor the dredging works to minimise potential risk to the fragile marine ecosystem. –KNA

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