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Sand harvesting in Kitui County has taken a new twist as now sand brokers are taking advantage of the many unemployed youths to illegally operate the business, anyone who raises a voice against scooping of sand is threatened or even roughed up.

The devastating state of Nguutani River due to illegal sand harvesting
Although the county assembly of Kitui had passed a motion making sand harvesting without proper documentation by NEMA illegal, some rivers like Nguutani River and River Kivou have been left in devastating conditions as sand cartels continue to draw sand from the rivers illegally.

Few weeks after she was elected into office, Governor Charity Ngilu had promised to put a permanent end to the perennial illegal sand harvesting problem, which has been ruining local rivers at the expense of Kitui residents.

At Nguutani area in Mwingi west constituency in Kitui County, two people were seriously injured Wednesday after a group of rowdy youth stormed and destructed a meeting which had been organized by local leaders to discuss the issues surrounding illegal sand harvesting in the area.

Word had reached sand cartels in the area that plans were underway to ban sand harvesting in River Nguutani, amid uproar by residents and major concerns over why uncontrolled sand scooping has been allowed to continue illegally in local rivers despite the matter having been reported to the local authorities time and again.

Suddenly, while a group of local leaders were inspecting the effects of illegal sand harvesting in River Nguutani, a group of youths armed with pangas, catapults and shovels started hurling stones to the leaders injuring two and the rest having to run for their life. One of the injured persons was rushed to Matuu Level IV hospital, while the other was treated at a nearby dispensary and later discharged.

Christopher Nzili, the chair of Mwingi West Professional Forum which had organized the meeting said that sand harvesting has dealt local rivers in the area major destruction and despite having delivered a memorandum demanding an end to sand harvesting at River Nguutani to Governor Ngilu three weeks ago, the process is still on-going.

Mr. Nzili said that water table in the area has gone down due to effects emanating from sand harvesting and water shortage has become the order of the day for the residents who have been left with nowhere to fetch water as all their water catchment areas have been destroyed.

“You can see for yourselves how illegal sand harvesting has ruined River Nguutani, I wonder how many decades it would take refill the 10 feet depth of sand which has so far been harvested,” Said Mr. Nzili.

He warned that the residents are planning to hold major peaceful demonstrations to express their dissatisfaction with the way the issue is being handled, adding that they are tired of sitting and watching while rogue people ruin their environment.

“We will pursue all legal means possible to ensure that we put a permanent end to illegal sand scooping which is currently ruining our rivers, soon we will hold major demonstrations if immediate actions are not taken to safe the situation,” added Mr. Nzili who is a lawyer by profession.

Simon Kyangu, a business man at Nguutani market says that illegal sand harvesting has left residents suffering from lack of water and roads in the area have been left in bad state as heavy tracks ferrying sand from the rivers have destroyed them.

“Our women have been left with nowhere to fetch water, sand scooping has left our rivers completely dry, and water table in our rivers has continued to go down and down,” articulated Mr. Kyangu.

Mr. Kyangu called upon governor Ngilu to intervene and safe the situation before it’s too late to do so.

David Kasina, a resident of Thitani location in Migwani sub-county said that all the sand in water catchment areas where the locals used to fetch water and take their animals for water have been destroyed and they have been left suffering unexpected water shortages.

Mr. Kasina also raised a major concern over the state of the road and the danger being posed by the Lorries which most times enter their rivers with their number plates removed in order to hide their identity.

“Transport in the interior places has been dealt a major blow as the heavy trucks have completely destroyed them, the amounts of dust emanating from the roads is also unbearable,” Lamented Mr. Kasina.

He warned that there is likelihood of the locals to suffer airborne diseases such as Tuberculosis due to the heavy amounts of dust coming from the roads whenever the heavy trucks a passing by.

The residents are hence calling for immediate intervention by the county government of Kitui led under the leadership of Governor Charity Ngilu in order to ensure that illegal sand harvesting doesn’t continue in their area, at their expense.


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