Governor signs executive order forcing officers to cut eucalyptus along river banks

Kisii Country Governor James Ongwae has signed an executive order compelling the county government to cut down eucalyptus trees planted on wetlands and marsh areas.

Under the Executive order, the county government will also commence demolition of informal settlements erected on the wetlands and riparian areas as stipulated in the Environmental Management and Coordination Act of 1999, Laws of Kenya.

Ongwae said the move was aimed at conserving and protecting water towers, sources and riparian land.

The Governor regretted that the rivers in the county have dried posing a great risk to the current and future generation.

“When I was growing up, I used to swim in my home river called river Nyagoto. It is disheartening that the river is completely and absolutely dry. Our main river Gucha is also drying up. We can’t just sit and wait as the eucalyptus trees continue depleting ground water,” he lamented.

The regretted that springs across the country are also drying up adding that boreholes drilled by his administration are running out of water.

“In some areas, we spend resources drilling boreholes in our efforts to provide safe drinking water for residents, but we end up missing the crucial commodity. As leaders, we must act or else this region will be completely dry,” he said.

Ongwae said that he has held discussions with his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama and legislatures from the area over the issues saying it needs a concerted approach.

“The issue was brought as a motion to the county assembly and was passed. I call on residents to uproot the trees near water catchment area before our officers come to the ground. The department of environment will give residents viable indigenous trees for replacement,” he said.

The governor said that he has directed the head of service, the department of administration which comprises of sub county and ward administrators, the department of water and environment to work hand in hand with the national government through the County Commissioner to execute the plan in three months.

“When this happens, know that it is a directive that was given by the County Assembly and Executive and that I have discussed informally with the members of parliament,” said the Governor.