Kenya South Coast residents triumph as environmental tribunal blocks sand harvesting

Members of the South Coast Residents Association in Kenya were jubilant yesterday when the National Environmental Tribunal ruled in their favor against the sand harvesting of corporate bogey man China Road and Bridge Corporation.

In the judgment it was explained that no comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study had been submitted and in the absence of such no more extraction of sand at the reefs along the south coast would be permitted.

Evidence submitted by the complainants showed beyond a reasonable doubt that sections of the reef had already suffered significant damage and that the sandy beaches had eroded to bare rock at sites where the sand sucking monster ships had, often under the cover of darkness, illegally extracted sand.

Besides the damage to the award winning south coast beaches was it also local fishermen who suffered as the area around the extraction points were saturated with sediment and fish subsequently died on a large scale, denying the fishermen their livelihood and income.’

Wrote the SCRA Secretary General Mrs. Luciana Parazzi Basile to her membership on the SCRA Facebook page:

‘Many SCRA members have in one way or another assisted us in achieving this victory. I will be compiling a list of all these members and send to you, but in the meantime I would like to thank them and all you members for supporting me on this issue. A particular thank you goes to our lawyer, Felix Midikira, for having been so brilliant and thorough and having achieved this for us. Thank you to our Governor, H.E. Salim Mvurya who has been behind us with his team especially Hon Ali Mafimbo, Hon Adam Sheik and Mr Hamisi Mwandaro. Mr Elias Kimaru of WWF and KCNRN, Mr Onesmus Macharia our EIA expert, Mr Casper Van de Geer our Marine Scientist and Mr Ali Mwafatina representing Tiwi Fishermen, all who brilliantly testified in Court.

And with this wonderful news, I wish you all an excellent weekend!’.

The success, which came as a result of organized and of course perfectly legal opposition to the sand extraction plans, has further emboldened environmentalists and conservationists in Kenya, who are also seeking to keep the Standard Gauge Railway out of the Nairobi National Park and protect the Nakuru National Park against encroachment by highway builders. Wrote one regular source, clearly delighted with SCRA’s victory at the tribunal: ‘This form of opposition to hare brained schemes is every citizen’s responsibility.

It is our country and we cannot afford to leave it in ruins for the next generation. There must be common sense and money, like in the cost of projects going up by for instance choosing another railway routing, should not be the decisive factor. The system has finally shown it works when the tribunal stopped the sand harvesting in Diani. I am one hundred percent sure that the EIA will not endorse sand extraction at the reefs. The company, which in almost criminal disregard to objections and the visible damage done by their ship kept coming back for more sand, will now just have to find sand somewhere else. In any case, sea sand is salty and unsuitable for building unless it is first washed but then, we also don’t have the water resources to facilitate that. I am very very pleased with the ruling!’.