The ten-year-old Mbita causeway in Lake Victoria linking Rusinga Location and Mbita mainland should be removed and replaced with a fly-over bridge, Experts suggested.
A Water Quality Officer from Friends of Lake Victoria (OSIENALA) Mr. Peter Mireri said the removal of the causeway would allow free movements of fish from Tanzanian side of the lake to Winam Gulf.
Mr. Mireri made the suggestion a during a tour of media practitioners to Mbita point in Suba District organized by International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in conjunction with Health and Environmental Media Network (HEMNet).
He said that all the inputs from rivers on the catchment area are emptied in Lake Victoria but are blocked at the causeway forming algae deposits. He further observed that the causeway had blocked migration route for fish.
“The causeway had blocked free movements of fish from and to Tanzania and had also increased pollution in the lake,” he said.
Mr. Mireri urged the Government to replace the causeway with a fly-over bridge to link Mbita Channel with Rusinga Island to save the lake’s ecosystem. The government has remained silent despite the scientific arguments advanced about the changing ecology.
“The situation in the Winam gulf is posing a serious ecological disaster which call for immediate attention” he said.
Dr. Richard Abila of the Kenya Marine and fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI) said increased pollution and situation caused by the causeway had increased fish deaths because of low oxygen levels in the water.
“Fish deaths has been high especially of Nile Perch specie since it requires more oxygen and clear water for its survival,” he said.
The Suba District Fisheries Officer, Mr. Benedict Kiilu, echoes the sentiments saying “Riverine species in the Tanzanian Lake have disappeared because of no outlet to their breeding sites.”
However, the residents argued that the causeway should be demolished only after putting a flyover. Councilor Michael Gumba said many people from the former Rusinga Islands died in the spot which is today causeway.” We commended the government for constructing the link and would be disheartened to hear that the link is to be removed without any alternative”, he said.
Joseph Ojwang is a free-lance journalist. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from Kenya, Africa.