LVEMP has been funded by the World Bank but has been unable to deal with the intrusive weed about 21 years since it was established. The MPs also raised concerns that the project has received over Sh4 billion from the World Bank to cater for tree planting and other initiatives, but that the impact is yet to be felt by the local community.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and LVEMP manager Fransisca Owuor on Wednesday faced members of the Regional Integration Committee of the National Assembly to explain why the machine acquired in 2016 has remained idle.
The Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP) is on the spot over suspected irregularities in the procurement of a Sh76 million dredging machine meant to remove the invasive water hyacinth weed from the lake. It emerged that LVEMP procured the dredging machine well aware that it did not have the right specifications to deal with the weed that has made transportation of goods and fishing expeditions difficult.
Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world, covers the three East African Countries – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The failures at LVEMP forced the government to acquire another dredging vessel owned by Ugandan firm, Mango Tree Group, which was unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila early in 2019.
The machine that is now under use is 70 metres long and weighs about 4,000 tonnes. Though the supplier is demanding more to fix the unused dredger, the World Bank has given the implementing agency until April 30 to resolve the stand-off with the ministry and suspended all projects in the lake basin region for stock-taking on the return on investments.