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MCAs decry outlawed sand harvesting and illegal CBOs at River Thura

 Ward Representatives from the Mbeere region of Embu County have sounded the alarm over the mushrooming of illegal Community Based Organisations (CBOs) that collect cess from the outlawed sand harvesting business.

 Muminji MCA Newton Kariuki speaks at an earlier function. He tabled a letter from NEMA at the Embu County Assembly fingering chiefs and police for condoning illegal harvesting of sand in River Thura./File

Muminji MCA Newton Kariuki, while tabling a letter from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) at the County Assembly fingered area chiefs for collaborating with the National Police Service officers to allow prohibited sand harvesting at River Thura and levying unlawful taxes in the water scarce area.

The letter dating back to 2018 recognised river Thura as a vital source of water and cautioned that sand harvesting endangered people’s livelihoods by draining the little water held in the sand. The MCA however said administrators were cashing in on the illegal sand business and sharing the loot with the police.

The MCA noted that NEMA had copied the letter classifying Thura as a protected river to the Officer Commanding the Siakago Police Division, Chiefs of Kirie, Iria Itune and Mutitu locations asking them to help in enforcing the prohibition of sand harvesting. Kariuki however said the complacent administrators had abdicated the duty to County Askaris.

Spending sleepless nights

Kariuki called upon the County Government to regulate CBO activities and also check the sand harvesting business, noting that women from his ward had resorted to spending sleepless nights at the riverbank to prevent sand harvesters from scooping the commodity. He urged deployed County Enforcement officers to be proactive.

On his part, Nominated MCA Augustine Njeru revealed that bhang smoking and drinking of illicit liquor was rampant at sand harvesting sites, adding that the trade was also contributing to school dropout rates as pupils and students flock to the river to work as lorry loaders and make quick money.

Njeru joined in the call to regulate CBOs targeting the sand harvesting business at river Thura saying that despite earning the community income, leaders of the organisations only benefitted themselves at the expense of households in the locale who are consequently denied access to water.

The two leaders spoke after Evurore MCA Duncan Mbui moved a Motion during a plenary sitting at the County Assembly to adjourn legislative business to discuss the effects of the collapse of the Karerema bridge linking Muminji and Kiambere wards to Ishiara Market.

Legislators unanimously resolved to okay the use of the County Emergency Response kitty at Governor Cecily Mbarire’s office to repair the steel bridge structure while lobbying for a permanent bridge from the National Government.


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