Fear of diseases, pollution of water sources, fish farms and destruction of crops are some of the challenges residents of Kiboko area in Makueni county are facing following a massive oil spill from a new Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) line.
The spillage is said to have contaminated Kiboko river, the major source of water for residents, which besides domestic purposes, is used for horticulture and aqua farming.
Although the spillage was detected on March 30, it is feared that this might have started immediately after laying of the 450km Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline late last year.
Acting KPC managing director Hudson Andambi said a point of weakness in the pipeline might have been caused by a large boulder that hit it during backfilling of the pipeline trench, which over time developed into a crack letting out thousands of gallons of oil.
Those not entirely convinced by the explanation claim the leakage could have resulted from a malicious puncturing of the pipeline by vandals intending to siphon oil.
With no digital or electronic leakage detectors, the leakage is feared to have gone on for days before March 30 when an officer of the Water Resource Users Association discovered the defect during routine patrol.
In a meeting with top KPC officials, Governor Kivutha Kibwana said several measures had been outlined to address the menace.
A taskforce was also formed to spearhead a programme that will ensure residents receive clean water for domestic use and ensure clean-up of the environment.
Kibwana expressed dissatisfaction with KPC’s handling of compensation and clean-up exercise of Thange oil spill two years ago saying his government will not take lightly issues of environmental degradation.
“We are staring at dangers of diseases such as cancer and grounding of huge economic activities. The only source of livelihood for thousands of residents is also being disrupted by the pollution,” said Kibwana.
“The oil spills we have experienced can be equated to environmental atrocities that can attract a legal suit,” he added.
He said his government would write to KPC demanding restoration of the water sources or compensation for loss of livelihoods.